The Twelfth District affirms a denial of unemployment benefits due to a resignation without just cause, declining to find a constructive discharge from being placed on the first step of progressive discipline even though the Employer told the employee that it did not think she was going to work out.
December 21, 2015
Watts had been employed as a chief financial officer (CFO) since July 2008, when she was informed in June 2013 that she was going to train her replacement through September 2013 and then receive a demotion. After assisting with this transition, the Employer met with her in December 2013 regarding performance issues and followed up with "Step 1 Corrective Action Form" on January 7, 2014. Later that day, the new CFO told her that he did not think she was going to work out, although this was interpreted as merely a prediction. As a result, on January 9, 2014 Watts tendered a notice of resignation.
When Watts initially applied for unemployment she was approved. However, that decision was reversed after a telephone hearing. The hearing officer reasoned that Watts was only on the first step of progressive discipline, that discharge was not inevitable, and hat "her quit after one reprimand was not reasonable." Watts appealed to the common pleas court, which affirmed the Review Commission's determination. She then brought this appeal arguing that her resignation was a constructive discharge.
The Twelfth District first reviewed its limited standard of review, such that it would reverse the Review Commission's decision only if it was, "unlawful, unreasonable, or against the manifest weight of the evidence." The Twelfth District concluded that, "at the time [Watts] tendered her resignation, she still had an opportunity to work with her employer to resolve the problems and issues between them." While there was evidence that support Watt's position, the Twelfth District concluded that the weight of the evidence did not compel it "to conclude that the Review Commission, as finder of fact in this case, 'clearly lost its way and created such a manifest miscarriage of justice' that its decision must be reversed and a new proceeding ordered." As a result, the Twelfth District affirmed the Common Pleas and Review Commission decisions.
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