A legal assistant who was told after more than five years of employment that she may need to seek another job because her hours would be cut by half was rightly awarded unemployment benefits, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday.
In a memorandum decision that named neither the law firm nor the assistant, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the determination of the Department of Workforce Development that legal assistant C.R. was entitled to unemployment benefits. She had worked for the company for five and a half years, putting in 32 hours a week divided between two attorneys who paid her salary of $21 an hour.
When one of the attorneys moved to Florida to transition to retirement, the other attorney informed C.R. that “he could not afford her services on a full-time basis and, if she could not pay her bills based upon a sixteen-hour work week, she should be ‘looking elsewhere,’” Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote.
A few months later, C.R. began to work part-time for another attorney and quit her employment, filing a claim for unemployment that was initially denied on the basis that she had left the company without good cause. But an administrative law judge who interviewed C.R. and the attorney she had worked for reversed that decision, finding she was entitled to benefits — a position adopted by the Department of Workforce Development.
The company appealed, but the COA affirmed for the legal assistant Friday in Company v. C.R., et al. (mem. dec.), 20A-EX-1126. The panel found the ALJ properly applied the simultaneous employment provision modifying the disqualification provision.
“After working thirty-two hours per week at Company for five and one-half years, Claimant’s work hours were drastically reduced. The reduction was attributed to reduced Company income and not the fault of Claimant,” the panel found. “Her immediate supervisor informed her that, if she needed more income, she should look for other employment. Claimant acted to maintain employment stability, notwithstanding the fact that she was not immediately offered full-time employment. The ALJ did not, as Company contends, misapply the simultaneous employee modification provision.”