Employee? worked ?as ?a ?dental ?hygienist. She suffered a serious neck and back injury and qualified for L&I benefits due to her permanent impairment.? ?She worked eight years part-time, eventually? reducing ?her ?work ?to ?two ?days ?per week.?? Her employer told her he needed her to work three days per week because his practice had grown or move to on-call work.?? The employee understood this as notice of termination because she could not work three days per week.? ?The employer?s records say the employee was discharged because she refused to work three days per week.
The employee filed a claim for unemployment. ?The Department denied her claim on the basis that she quit for personal reasons. ?The Department ruled the employee had not quit due to disability. ?The Commissioner affirmed but the Superior? Court ?reversed.?? ?The? Superior? Court held that she had quit for good cause.? ?The Department paid the benefits but appealed. ?The court of appeals reversed. The court of appeals first ruled that the Department?s payment of the benefits did not moot the case because, if the Department prevailed on appeal, it could recoup the money. The? court ?held ?that ?substantial ?evidence supported the Department?s finding that she left work voluntarily and was not discharged.
The court of appeals held that the employee had a ?disability? for purposes of unemployment.???? ?But? ?the?? court? ?of?? appeals affirmed the Department?s finding that her disability was not the primary reason she left work.? ?It also held that she had failed to show that her disability made it necessary for her to leave work.? ?The court of appeals further held that she had failed to prove her hours were reduced by more than 25%, as the employer wanted to increase her hours by having her work three days per week.
Finally, ?the? court ?held ?the? employee could not rely on the statute section providing that compensation cannot be denied because a person is a part-time worker. ?The court held that statute only applies to workers who are unemployed at the time they turn down an offer of full-time employment.? ?The employee was employed at the time she rejected the offer of full-time ?employment.???? The ?court ?held ?that section at issue was not an additional ground for ?good cause? to quit.
Darkenwald v. ESD, — Wn. App. —, — P.3d — (Div. II 6/24/14) (Maxa, Bjorgen, Lee)