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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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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