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City of Three Rivers v Baker 10.61

Section 29(1)(a)

VOLUNTARY LEAVING, Quit in anticipation of layoff

CITE AS: City of Three Rivers v Baker, St. Joseph Circuit Court No. 97-1128 AE (June 10, 1998).

Appeal pending: No

Claimant: William Baker

Employer: City of Three Rivers

Docket No. B96-01929-R01-140906W

CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: If an individual leaves work in order to avoid a layoff the leaving is voluntary but with good cause attributable to the employer.

FACTS: The claimant was employed as a captain in the employer's fire department. In March 1995, the employer announced it would be downsizing and as a result the claimant would be laid off as of August. Recognizing that his wife's salary would not be enough to support their family once he was laid off, claimant and his wife both began looking for other employment. The wife found and accepted another position out of state at a significantly better rate of pay. Thereafter, claimant was notified the layoffs would no longer be necessary and he could continue working. By that point, claimant had relocated his family and disposed of his assets in Michigan. Therefore, claimant gave written notice of his resignation and left his employment two weeks later.

DECISION: The claimant was not disqualified for benefits for voluntary leaving.

RATIONALE: When an employer notifies an employee that the employee will be laid off at a designated future date, that employee must take that notice as a recommendation from the employer that he begin a search for new employment. Although claimant was later notified circumstances had changed and he could continue his employment, at that juncture claimant had no reasonable choice but to move to be with his family. It is not reasonable for a claimant to choose to remain employed, in an insecure job that had just threatened him with layoff, at the cost of his family.


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