On April 7th, ABC Tires hired William Martin (names changed) to be a full-time sales and warehouse manager.  The employer was planning for Mr. Martin to manage a new warehouse it was opening.  Just two weeks after hire, ABC told Mr. Martin that for business reasons it was no longer planning to open a new warehouse.  For that reason, the job he had been hired for was no longer available.  Mr. Martin was informed that there might be work available for him—but as a route sales person, not a management position.  Mr. Martin told the employer he wasn’t hired for that position and didn’t take it.

Mr. Martin filed for unemployment benefits and was granted them.  ABC Tires appealed, claiming that Mr. Martin had voluntarily quit, and therefore must be denied Iowa unemployment benefits.  Administrative Law Judge Beth A. Scheetz issued a decision on July 1, 2014 In Mr. Martin’s favor.

Here’s the thing: ABC Tires was right in arguing that if someone quits their job voluntarily, they can’t get unemployment benefits.  But if you quit because of a substantial change in the terms or conditions of your employment, it’s not considered voluntary.  There are a large number of circumstances that can indicate a substantial change, for example, a substantial reduction in hours, different shifts, different remuneration, and different location of employment.  Someone who quits because of a major change like this has quit “with good cause attributable to his employer”.  Mr. Martin’s job was changed fairly drastically—at the very least, he was offered a completely different position at a completely different location.  Just the change in location alone would be enough to constitute quit with good cause attributable to ABC.

One thing that’s interesting about his situation is that it isn’t clear whether Mr. Martin had actually started working for ABC.  Even so, he had only been hired two weeks when he was notified that his position was no longer available.  But even though ABC had only employed Mr. Martin a short while, it was on the hook for unemployment benefits.  And that’s a good sign for all the recently-hired—if an employer has to make the hard business decision of letting people go, it normally opts to terminate the people most recently hired.  It’s good to know that if you’re in that situation, it’s no bar to getting unemployment benefits.

Need help with your unemployment benefits case?  I like to say to my clients, "Help me to help you."  If we can help you, call the Lombardi Law Firm to speak with attorneys Steve Lombardi and Katrina Schaefer. We can be reached at 515-222-1110 or by emailing us at [email protected] and [email protected] We look forward to your call.

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