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Selected Case Law

Selected Case Law

The following are selected passages from Missouri appellate court decisions on various issues that arise under the Missouri Employment Security Law:

Voluntary Leaving Cases

Burden of Proof
"The burden to prove good cause rests on the claimant ...." Contractors Supply Company v. Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, 614 S.W.2d 563, 564 (Mo. App. W.D. 1981).
Good Cause
"To constitute good cause, the circumstances motivating an employee to voluntarily terminate employment must be real not imaginary, substantial not trifling, and reasonable not whimsical, and good faith is an essential element. The standard as to what constitutes good cause is the standard of reasonableness as applied to the average man or woman, and not to the supersensitive." Belle State Bank v. Industrial Commission, 547 S.W.2d 841, 846, 847 (Mo. App. 1977).
Good Faith
"A worker has good cause to terminate employment voluntarily when that conduct conforms to what an average person, who acts with reasonableness and in good faith, would do." Contractors Supply Company v. Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, 614 S.W.2d 563, 564 (Mo. App. W.D. 1981). "To demonstrate good faith, a claimant must show that before taking the 'drastic' measure of termination of employment, he or she attempted to remedy the situation or dispute." American Family Insurance Company v. Hilden, 936 S.W.2d 207, 210, 211 (Mo. App. W.D. 1996).
Dissatisfaction with Working Conditions
"Absent discriminatory or unfair or arbitrary treatment, mere dissatisfaction with working conditions does not constitute good cause for quitting employment unless the dissatisfaction is based upon a substantial change in wages or working conditions from those in force at the time the claimant's employment commenced." Charles v. Missouri Division of Employment Security, 750 S.W.2d 658, 661 (Mo. App. W.D. 1988).
Profane Language
"A claimant is not required to continue to be subjected to abusive conduct and profane language." Streitz v. Juneau 940 S.W.2d 548, 551 (Mo. App. S.D. 1997).
Verbal Abuse
"An employee should not have to endure verbal abuse as a condition of employment, nor should such an employee have to forfeit unemployment compensation benefits upon deciding to sever ties with an employer for that reason." Streitz v. Juneau 940 S.W.2d 548, 551 (Mo. App. S.D. 1997).
Transportation
"In the absence of contract, custom or a collective bargaining agreement imposing an obligation of transportation on the employer, transportation is usually considered a problem of the employee." Woolridge v. Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, 643 S.W.2d 317, 319 (Mo. App. W.D. 1982).
Treatment by Employer
"The treatment of an employee by his employer or supervisor may be so arbitrary and unacceptable to a person of ordinary reasonable sensitivity as to afford justification for the employee to quit the employment [.]" Smith v. Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, 656 S.W.2d 812, 817 (Mo. App. W.D. 1983).
Refusal to Take Drug/Alcohol Test
Winco Manufacturing, Inc. v. Capone, 133 S.W.3d 555 (Mo.App. E.D. 2004)
Claimant refused to take a drug and alcohol test even after being warned he would be terminated for refusing. Court held claimant’s actions in leaving the test was voluntary on his part and that he quit his job. In addition, he did not attempt to resolve this with the employer prior to quitting. This lack of good faith in a quit without good cause attributable to the work or to the employer.
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Voluntary Separation Package
Shields v. Proctor & Gamble Product Company, 164 S.W.3d 540 (Mo.App. E.D. 2005)
Employer offered a voluntary separation package, which the claimant accepted. His actions in accepting the package were voluntary on his part and he is disqualified from benefits for quitting his job without good cause attributable to the work or employer.
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Resignation
Miller v. Help at Home, Inc. No, 186 S.W.3d 801 (Mo.App. W.D. 2006)
Claimant attempted to rescind a resignation which the employer did not allow and in fact accelerated on the last day. The Court held that this is a voluntary leaving. In addition, the Court held that a temporary reduction in hours did not give the claimant a good cause to quit.
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Willcut v. Division of Employment Security, 193 S.W.3d 410 (Mo.App. E.D. 2006)
Claimant submitted a resignation in July that was effective August 31. The employer accepted the resignation, and then dismissed the claimant on July 29. The Court held that the claimant’s separation on July 29 was a discharge and was entitled to UI up to August 31, the date she was going to quit.
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Misconduct Cases

Definition of Misconduct
"‘Misconduct’ [is] an act of wanton or willful disregard of the employer's interest, a deliberate violation of the employer's rules, a disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect of his or her employee, or negligence in such degree or recurrence as to manifest culpability, wrongful intent or evil design, or show an intentional and substantial disregard of the employer's interest or of the employee's duties and obligations to the employer [.]” (§288.030.1, RSMo).
Burden of Proof
"Where an employer claims that an employee was discharged for misconduct, the employer has the burden of proving misconduct by competent and substantial evidence." Business Centers of Missouri, Inc. v. Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, 743 S.W.2d 588, 589 (Mo. App. E.D. 1988).
Disregard of the Standard of Behavior
Peoples v. ESI Mail Pharmacy Services, Inc., 213 S.W.3d 710 (Mo.App. E.D. 2007)
The Court held that the claimant, discharged for sending wrong prescriptions to customers on multiple occasions was discharged for misconduct connected with work. Court relied on the provision that applies to a “disregard of the standard of behavior” provision of the definition.
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Refusal to Follow a Reasonable Work Directive
Dixon v. Stoam Industries, Inc., 216 S.W.3d 688 (Mo.App. S.D. 2007)
Claimant’s refusal to allow for a reasonable work directive from a supervisor constitutes misconduct connected with work.
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Computer Usage
Sumner Group, Inc., v. Ernst, 264 S.W.3d 669 (Mo.App. E.D. 2008)
Claimant’s actions in transmitting sexual emails were a violation of the employer’s computer usage policy and constitute misconduct.
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Absence from Work
"[A]bsences due to illness or family emergency are absences caused through no fault of Employee and as such cannot be willful misconduct, especially if properly reported to Employer.' Garden View Care Center, Inc., v. Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, 848 S.W.2d 603, 606 (Mo. App. E.D. 1993).
Dameron v. Drury Inns, Inc., 190 S.W.3d 508 (Mo.App. E.D. 2006)
Court addresses issue of being absent from work due to illness. The Court held that if a claimant is absent due to illness or family emergency; a claimant has not willfully violated an employer’s rule.
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White v. Wackenhut Corporation, 208 S.W.3d 916 (Mo.App. E.D. 2006)
Claimant overslept due to failure of her alarm clock. Claimant was aware that there was a problem with the alarm clock; however, this was the first time she had missed work due to this problem. The Court held there was no evidence of willfulness on the part of the claimant and misconduct has not been shown.
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Barlynn Enterprises, Inc. v. Foell, 223 S.W.3d 168 (Mo.App. S.D. 2007)
Claimant’s testimony that she left a message to report her absence due to illness was sufficient to establish that her discharge was not for misconduct.
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Miller v. Nucrown, Inc., No. 238 S.W.3d 233 (Mo.App. W.D. 2007)
Since the claimant reported her absences, the evidence did not support a conclusion that she abandoned her job.
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Difatta-Wheaton v. Dolphin Capital Corporation, 271 S.W.3d 594 (Mo. 2008)
When claimant was not able to return to work after approved leave, due to serious health issues, she was not disqualified from receiving benefits because she did not quit her employment “voluntarily”. The claimant did everything possible to retain her job.
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Tardiness to Work
Cubit v. Accent Marketing Services, LLC, 222 S.W.3d 277 (Mo.Appl W.D. 2007)
Claimant was late to work due to a bridge closing requiring a detour to get to work. Court held that this was not a willful violation or disregard because the claimant’s tardiness was outside her control.
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False Work Application
"[S]tatements in employment applications must be materially false before a discharge based on falsifications will result in a denial of unemployment benefits. . . . The false statements on the application must be found to be material to the employee's ability to perform properly the duties for which he is employed." Massey v. Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, 740 S.W.2d 680, 683 (Mo. App. E.D. 1987)(emphasis in original).
Violation of Rule
There is a "vast distinction between the violation of a rule of an employer that would justify the discharge of the employee and a violation of such rule that would warrant a determination of misconduct connected with the employee's employment so as to disqualify him for the statutory unemployment compensation benefits." Laswell v. Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, 534 S.W.2d 613, 617 (Mo. App. 1976).
Poor Workmanship
"Poor workmanship, lack of judgment or the inability to do the job do not disqualify a claimant from receiving benefits on the basis of misconduct." Powell v. Division of Employment Security, 669 S.W.2d 47, 51 (Mo. App. W.D. 1984).
Poor Judgment
Tamko Building Products, Inc. v. Frankosi, 258 S.W.3d 575 (Mo.App. S.D. 2008)
Claimant had an argument with a supervisor over a report. The claimant’s conduct was poor judgment, but did not constitute misconduct.
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Threat Against a Co-Worker
"[M]aking a threat against the life of a co-worker while at the work place in response to the employment situation is misconduct connected with work." Storz v. Labor and Industrial Relations Commission, 723 S.W.2d 72, 73 (Mo. App. E.D. 1986).
Simple Negligence
"An isolated act of simple negligence is not, as a matter of law, misconduct connected with work." Yellow Freight System, Inc. v. Thomas, 987 S.W.2d 1,4 (Mo. App. W.D. 1998).
Murphy v. Aaron’s Automotive Products, 232 S.W.3d 616 (Mo.App. S.D. 2007)
Claimant was discharged after some solenoids were discovered that the employer believed should have been reprocessed rather than thrown away. The Court ruled the claimant was not aware of the employer’s expectation on the parts and therefore the discharge was not for misconduct.
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Security Negligence
Ottomeyer v. Whalen Security Company, 202 S.W.3d 47 (Mo.App. E.D. 2006)
Claimant was a security guard at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Due to the nature of the claimant’s job, he was engaged in an area of employment where military-like discipline is required to preserve lives. The claimant must be held to a high degree of care in the exercise of his duties and his failure to check a tug operator’s ID was misconduct.
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Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
CNW Foods, Inc. v. Davidson, 141 S.W.3d 100 (Mo.App. S.D. 2004)
The employer failed to provide the claimant with the full twelve weeks leave required under the FMLA. Because the claimant could not return when the employer ordered, the Court held the commissions finding that the claimant was discharged, which was supported by the record.
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Available for Work Cases

General Provisions
"[T]o be eligible a claimant must clearly possess a genuine attachment to the labor market and be able, willing and ready to accept suitable work." Golden v. Industrial Commission, 524 S.W.2d 34, 36 (Mo. App. 1975).
"[A] claimant cannot unduly restrict . . . availability for employment by arbitrarily limiting the character of work, the area within which employment is sought or would be taken, or the wage which would be acceptable." Blackman v. Industrial Commission, 491 S.W.2d 18, 24 (Mo. App. 1973).
Students
"Ineligible student-claimants are those who limit their availability for work to particular times, days or periods that do not interfere with their primary and principal objective of obtaining a formal education. The reason such students are considered ineligible is that by making themselves available for work only conditionally and on a limited basis at times that do not conflict with their classes and learning purposes, they have divorced themselves actually and currently from the general labor market." Golden v. Industrial Commission, 524 S.W.2d 34, 37 (Mo. App. 1975).

Suitable Work Cases

Refusal of Suitable Work
Ross v. Whelan Security Co., 195 S.W.3d 559 (Mo.App. S.D. 2006)
Court addressed the issue of whether Section 288.050.1(3), “suitable work”, applies when an offer of work is made prior to the filing of a claim by the individual. The court held in part, “An offer of work made to an individual before that individual becomes a ‘claimant’ cannot, by definition, be an offer of work to the ‘claimant,’ and the ‘claimant’ cannot fail to accept such offer at a time when the ‘claimant’ was not in existence.”
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Bona Fide Offer
Garas v. Kelley Services, Inc., 211 S.W.3d 149 (Mo.App. E.D. 2007)
A former employer’s request for a request for a résumé to see if the claimant was qualified for a temporary job was not an offer of work.
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The cases quoted above do not represent an exhaustive compilation of employment security decisions in this state. The quotes are meant only to set out the appellate interpretations on some of the more common issues that come before the Appeals Tribunal.

Note: An appeal cannot be filed by e-mail.