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March 31, 2011

Dissatisfaction with a new job assignment

Dissatisfaction with a new job assignment
Matter of Gaines and the NYC Transit Authority [Commissioner of Labor], Appellate Division, 37 AD3d 962
Shawn A. Gaines was disqualified from receiving unemployment insurance benefits after the Unemployment Insurance Board found that he had voluntarily left his employment without good cause.

Gaines, after working as a train operator for 21 years, was temporarily suspended from his job and scheduled to return to work in October 2004. In the interim, however, the Transit Authority implemented a policy prohibiting employees from working as train operators when, as was the situation with Gaines, they have medical restrictions that prevent them from operating trains in passenger service.

Gaines’ restriction: he suffered a hearing loss.

The Authority, however, told Gaines it would place him in a different position and directed him to report for medical examinations. Gaines did not report for the examinations nor did he provide the Authority with the documentation it had requested concerning his medical condition. Instead, Gaines filed a claim for unemployment insurance benefits claiming that he was terminated for lack of work.

The Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board disqualified him from receiving benefits after finding that Gaines had voluntarily left his employment without good cause. The Board also charged Gaines with a recoverable overpayment of more than $1,600 and reduced his right to receive future benefits by eight effective days. Gaines appealed.

The Appellate Division affirmed the Board’s determination, stating that dissatisfaction with a new job assignment, the terms and conditions of which are comparable to a former job, has been held not to constitute good cause for leaving one's job.

Other factors cited by the court supporting the Board’s determinations:

1. Gaines said he did not want to be placed in a different position even though an Authority representative testified that Gaines would receive the same salary and vacation time.

2. By failing to appear for the Authority’s medical examinations before knowing the nature of the position to which he was to be reassigned, Gaines failed to take reasonable steps to protect his employment.

Considering the fact that Gaines “inaccurately represented that he was laid off when continuing work was, in fact, available,” the court ruled that substantial evidence also supports the Board's finding that he made a willful misrepresentation to obtain benefits.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://nypublicpersonnellawarchives.blogspot.com/2007/02/dissatisfaction-with-new-job-assignment.html
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