York v. Review Bd. of Indiana Employment Sec. Division

Citation425 N.E.2d 707
Decision Date21 September 1981
Docket NumberNo. 2-281A51,2-281A51
PartiesTherman H. YORK, Appellant, v. REVIEW BOARD OF the INDIANA EMPLOYMENT SECURITY DIVISION, William H. Skinner, David L. Adams and Paul M. Hutson, as Members of and as constituting the Review Board of the Indiana Employment Security Division, and Ford Motor Company, Appellees. John LAZAR, Appellant, v. REVIEW BOARD OF the INDIANA EMPLOYMENT SECURITY DIVISION, William H. Skinner, David L. Adams and Paul M. Hutson, as Members of and as constituting the Review Board of the Indiana Employment Security Division, and Ford Motor Company, Appellees.
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

Thomas E. Atz, Samper, Hawkins & Atz, Indianapolis, for appellants.

Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen., Gordon R. Medlicott, Michael Gene Worden, Deputy Attys. Gen., Indianapolis, for appellees.

ROBERTSON, Judge.

Therman H. York (York) and John Lazar (Lazar) appeal the decisions of the Review Board of the Employment Security Division (Review Board) which denied both of their claims for unemployment benefits. York and Lazar brought separate claims for benefits, but due to the similarity of these cases, they have been consolidated on appeal.

We affirm.

York and Lazar worked for Ford Motor Company (Ford) before entering retirement agreements. Ford presented York and Lazar with "Special Early Retirement" offers. Special early retirement is only granted at the option of the employer and is only available to employees under age sixty-two. If retirement is accepted, the employee receives a special bonus from the time of the election until he reaches age sixty-five. York and Lazar accepted special early retirement and later applied for Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA) benefits. TRA benefits are administered pursuant to the Federal Trade Act of 1974, 19 U.S.C. § 2101 et seq. The benefits are available to groups of workers whose employers have been adversely affected by international trade. It is a federally funded program which is administered by the states.

York was employed as a process engineer for Ford for over sixteen years prior to entering the retirement agreement on April 30, 1980. Ford presented York with the retirement offer on April 25, 1980 and gave him five days to accept it. At the time York received the offer, Ford reminded him of his low seniority and that due to job consolidations, his job function would be performed at a Detroit office beginning in 1981. On numerous other occasions, York had rejected other retirement offers. York testified that he retired because he felt coerced.

Lazar was a superintendent of quality control before electing to retire on September 30, 1980. Lazar was reminded that many jobs had been eliminated and that Ford was trying to reduce personnel because of productivity problems. Lazar believed that the section in which he worked would be combined with another section and he feared that he would lose his job classification, which could have resulted in a three hundred and seventy-five dollar per month loss in income. Lazar received a three hundred and fifty dollar per month bonus for accepting special early retirement. Lazar attempted to retract his retirement, but Ford did not accept his retraction.

York and Lazar filed separate claims for TRA benefits with the Employment Security Division. These claims were denied and both York and Lazar requested a hearing before a referee. The notices of the referees' hearing failed to disclose that York and Lazar had the right to counsel. Neither York nor Lazar had counsel at their hearings. After the hearings, the claims of York and Lazar were denied. The initial decision found that York was not entitled to benefits because he voluntarily retired. The referee denied Lazar's claim because he found that Lazar's separation from work was for reasons other than lack of work. These claims were then appealed to the Review Board, which affirmed the referees' decisions. Lazar requested to introduce additional evidence after his referee's hearing but this request was denied by the Review Board.

On appeal, York and Lazar allege that the Review Board's decisions are contrary to law and are not supported by substantial evidence, that both York and Lazar were denied due process because they were not advised of their right to counsel, and that the referees failed to fulfill their statutory duties to assist York and Lazar in developing their claims. In addition to these issues, Lazar argues the Review Board erred in denying his request to introduce additional evidence.

Generally, the findings of fact made by the Review Board are conclusive and binding upon this court. Kuntz v. Review Bd. of Ind. Employment Sec. Div., (1979) Ind.App., 389 N.E.2d 342. In reviewing the determination of the Review Board, we may not weigh the evidence and may only consider that evidence, and reasonable inferences therefrom, most favorable to the Review Board's Decision. Ervin v. Review Bd. of the Ind. Employment Sec. Div., (1977) 173 Ind.App. 592, 364 N.E.2d 1189. On appeal, we only disturb the decision of the Review Board if reasonable persons would be bound to reach a different conclusion on the evidence in the record. Kuntz, supra.

In order to receive unemployment compensation, 1 a claimant must satisfy the eligibility requirements contained in Ind.Code § 22-4-14-1 through 3, and must further demonstrate that the general disqualification provisions of Ind.Code § 22-4-15-1 are inapplicable. The claimant must establish: a) that his reasons for abandoning his employment would impel a reasonably prudent man to terminate under the same or similar circumstances; and b) that these reasons or causes are objectively related to the employment. Gray v. Dobbs House, Inc., (1976) 171 Ind.App. 444, 357 N.E.2d 900.

The first issue raised by York and Lazar is whether the decisions of the Review Board were contrary to law and unsupported by substantial evidence. The essence of this alleged error is that York and Lazar were forced to retire and merely mitigated their economic losses. They argue that their separation from work was for good cause, that it resulted from the lack of work in the automobile industry, and therefore, they are entitled to TRA benefits. York and Lazar ask this court to extend the rationale of Ball v. Review Bd. of Ind. Employment Sec. Div., (1971) 149 Ind.App. 494, 273 N.E.2d 869 to voluntary separation cases. It should be noted that the referee's decision regarding Lazar's claim was partially based on his attempted retraction of retirement. 2 Lazar argues that it is necessary to examine his case at the time he elected retirement and invites this court not to treat his case as a retraction case. Even if we accept Lazar's invitation, he is not entitled to relief.

In Ball, the employee worked for one employer as a janitor and he also worked part-time for another employer as a dishwasher. The employee was laid off from his janitorial job and began receiving unemployment compensation of approximately one hundred dollars per week. The employee was then offered a full time job with his second employer where he would have been paid approximately eighty dollars per week. The employee refused the employment offer from the second employer because he would have received less than he was receiving from unemployment compensation. The employee's benefits were terminated because of his refusal to accept the job from his second employer. Upon appeal, we found that economic injury is a factor to be considered in determining the suitability of comparable work. York and Lazar contend that the threat of economic injury, which they contend forced them to accept retirement, should be extended to voluntary termination cases.

We remain unpersuaded that we should extend the rationale of Ball to the present situation. A stricter standard is imposed on those who voluntarily quit working as compared to those who refuse available work. This stricter standard is consistent with the purpose and intent of the unemployment compensation laws. Thomas v. Review Bd. of Employment Sec. Div., (1979) Ind., 391 N.E.2d 1127, rev'd on other grounds, U.S., ...

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