Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission --
Summary of Wisconsin Court Decision relating to Unemployment Insurance

Subject: Sharon L. Wilhelm (Hearing No. 99002223WU) v. LIRC and North Central Laboratories, Case No. 00 CV 48 (Wis. Cir. Ct., Shawano County August 23, 2000)

Digest Codes: VL 1007.01   VL 1023.25  VL 1080.268  VL 1080.20

The employe began working for the employer, a laboratory supply house, in August 1996. She worked as a utility worker for $9.50 per hour. In November 1998 the employe had surgery for breast cancer. She returned to work part time and had chemotherapy treatments that ended in March 1999. She had schedule and work restrictions. Subsequent to her return to work the employe experienced swelling and soreness in her chest. Initially the employe and her doctor thought this resulted from lifting beyond her restrictions. She told her supervisor that this was the cause. The employer decided to transfer the employe to an area where there would be no lifting. This was to be a temporary light duty assignment. Subsequently it was determined that the soreness and swelling resulted from reconstructive surgery. The employe did not tell the employer this. While the employe was off work there had been a change in her job duties. The employe had a dispute with her supervisor about how this job was to be done.

The employer told the employe about the new assignment on April 30, 1999, to start on May 3, 1999. The employe objected to the change and was told to talk to her supervisor. The supervisor denied being involved in the decision. When the employe reported to work on May 3, 1999 she was told that she had to write apology letters to the supervisor and to the employer in order to continue employment. The employe handed the employer her passkey and walked out. She did not write the apology letters. The commission decided that the employe quit and not for good cause attributable to the employer.

Held:  It is not the court’s job to substitute its opinion of the facts based on inferences the court may draw. The court is to give great weight to the commission’s interpretation. The burden of showing the commission’s decision unreasonable is on the plaintiff. Here the plaintiff was not going to write the apology letters. That was a requirement in order to remain employed. The commission found the requirement was not such a real and substantial act or omission by the employer as to amount to a constructive discharge. The court sees no reason to upset that decision. Commission’s findings are supported by the record and support the conclusion. Benefits denied.

[LIRC decision]

Please note that this is a summary prepared by staff of the commission, not a verbatim reproduction of the court decision.

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