ILNews

Court rules on unemployment benefits case

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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Individuals who voluntarily quit a job in order to take care of a physically disabled relative are not entitled to unemployment benefits, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

In Mildred Whiteside v. Indiana Department of Workforce Development, Unemployment Insurance Review Board and Division of Family & Children, 93A02-0703-EX-229, Whiteside appealed the decision of the Review Board of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development to deny her claim for unemployment benefits, saying the denial was contrary to Indiana law.

Whiteside was a full-time employee at the Indiana Division of Family & Children and voluntarily left her job in September 2006 to provide care for her quadriplegic son. She requested and was denied family medical leave because she had not worked the required 1,250 hours in the previous 12 months. She had previously used FMLA leave to assist in her son's rehabilitation. After she resigned, Whiteside filed for unemployment benefits, which both the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and an administrative law judge denied. The administrative law judge concluded Whiteside voluntarily left her job without good cause in connection to her work. Whiteside appealed, and the Review Board affirmed the judge's decision.

In question in this appeal is whether Indiana Code Section 22-4-15-1(c)(2) applies to Whitehead in granting her unemployment benefits for taking care of her disabled son. Whitehead argues that one of the exclusions for physical disability in the statute applies to her ability to receive unemployment benefits. The section states "An individual whose unemployment is the result of medically substantiated physical disability and who is involuntary unemployed after having made reasonable efforts to maintain the employment relationship shall not be subject to the disqualification under this section for such separation."

The Court of Appeals, while commending Whitehead for leaving her job to take care of her son, affirmed the denial of her unemployment benefits, stating the Indiana Code section in question only applies to an individual with a disability, not to a family member. The language of the code does not include anything to indicate the disability of anyone other than the claimant should be considered. Under Whitehead's interpretation of the statute, people with ailing parents, siblings, children, spouses, and other dependents would be able to receive unemployment benefits, which is not the intended result of the statute.

Because Whitehead was not suffering the disability, the Review Board had no reason to consider or apply this statutory section in reaching its conclusion of law.
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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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