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Judges: early retirement ends unemployment benefits

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the termination of unemployment benefits for an auto worker who accepted an early retirement package after she was laid off.

S.A. worked at Daimler Chrysler from 1999 until February 2008 when she was laid off. Chrysler still paid her some wages and she also received unemployment benefits. S.A. eventually accepted an early retirement package and no longer was an employee in May 2009.

Shortly thereafter, her unemployment benefits were suspended because a claims deputy determined she voluntarily left Chrysler without good cause in connection with the work. An administrative law judge and the Board of Review of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development also concluded that S.A. was ineligible to continue receiving benefits.

In S.A. v. Review Board, No. 93A02-1004-EX-568, S.A. argued that the board erred in determining she left her job without good cause in connection to the work. She claimed she felt pressure to retire because her benefits were running out and she was told there was no chance of her getting back to work and she needed the insurance the retirement would offer.

She also argued that she had been receiving unemployment benefits for 15 months before she took the retirement package and she was already unemployed at the time and accepting the package didn’t change her status.

The appellate court affirmed the board’s decision, finding it properly cited Indiana Code Section 22-4-14-1(c). That section says it does not apply “to a person who elects to retire in connection with a layoff or plant closure and receive pension, retirement, or annuity payments.”

The judges found her case to be similar to York v. Review Board of the Indiana Employment Security Division, 425 N.E.2d 707, 711 (Ind. Ct. App. 1981), in which the appellate court held an employee who accepted an early retirement package left his job without good cause in connection with the work. York argued he was forced to retire and by taking the retirement agreement, he had merely mitigated his economic losses.

“Although York predates the addition of subsection (c), we agree with its reasoning; therefore, we affirm the Board’s decision,” wrote Judge Terry Crone.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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