Voluntary Leaving Under the
Unemployment Insurance Act
Custodial Service Person Loses
on Voluntary Leaving Claim
based on Demotion
In Lojek v. Ill Dept of Employment Security, 2013 IL App (1st) 120679, a lead person working for ABM Janitorial Services was demoted after her boss learned from the ABM customer, Roosevelt University, that Lojek had been smoking in the school’s offices and drinking an alcoholic beverage. Lojek alleged at the IDES that the demotion to another location aggravated health problems and quit. She claimed that her resignation was not a voluntary leaving but was attributable to ABM.
The relevant section of the Unemployment Insurance Act is 601(A), which provides that a claimant is ineligible for benefits if she has left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the employer. “Good cause” results from circumstances that create real and substantial pressure to terminate employment. Hence a substantial and unilateral change in employment may render employment unsuitable, but an employee’s dissatisfaction with terms and conditions of employment is not good cause.
Example: The law has found that moving a plant sixteen miles amounted to a substantial change, so the employee who quit in response was not ineligible under §601(A). The law also expects an employee confronted with a change in employment to make an effort to resolve the situation, if reasonably possible. Waiting seven months to grieve a demotion and a pay cut was grounds to deny unemployment benefits when the individual quit after the grievance was denied. A change in hours, pay, and policies is not good cause attributable to the employer; the changes must be unilateral and substantial.
In Lojek’s case, the evidence indicated that she agreed to the demotion. Although after one day on the job at the new assignment she quit, she made no effort to request an alternative assignment. The court overruled the Circuit Court judge in the Daley Center who heard the case and upheld the IDES Board of Review, that had found ineligibility.
At the phone hearing she referred to the reassignment as a “completely new job.” This did not impress the appellate court.