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California Unemployment Case Law
Research at the California Judiciary site
Search only CA case law:
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Acuff et al
They voted to strike. Therefore, they do not collect.
AF of L
Should a claimant collect unemployment benefits while his claim is being appealed? The court says not.
Aguilar et al
In 1978, the EDD said these farm workers were on strike and could not collect. In 1985, seven years later, the court decided they should collect. In 1990, 22 years later, the court decides that the EDD must pay interest on the benefits not paid twelve years before.
Bertram
They hired someone to replace him when went to jail for a month for hit and run. He does not collect.
Board of Education
A substitute teacher cannot collect unemployment during summer vacation.
Boren
EDD had a rule that someone who quits for family obligations and who is not the main breadwinner is disqualified from benefits. Here, a woman successfully argues that since a woman is nearly always the one who has to quit when the family cannot find daycare, the rule is discriminatory.
Bradshaw
Severance pay disqualifies a claimant even if you call it something else.
Carlsen
A guy with a one-horse construction company cannot find work, neither for his company, nor via the union hall. The state doesn't want to pay him unemployment because he still has this little company. The court says pay.
California Portland Cement
In most every state, to deny a claim, an employer only needs to show that an employee quit voluntarily without good cause connected with the job. In California, an employer has to prove that the employee left work without good cause, period. In this case, the worker quit several times, never gave a reason, never showed at hearings, never argued the case in court, yet wins, because the employer cannot show what his reason was for quitting, and therefore cannot show that he did not quit for good cause.
Cervisi
These junior college instructors collect unemployment between semesters because unless enough people enroll there will be no classes for them to teach.
Chambers
EDD does not want to pay an unemployed mechanic because he sports a ponytail and a beard.
Citroen
Citroen closed up shop in L.A. and paid severance to terminated employees. Whether this severance prevents their unemployment benefits depends on whether it was payment for services.
Davis
A nurse was fired when she gave half a dose instead of a full dose.
Delgado
A grocery clerk was fired, ostensibly for helping customers and working efficiently. There has to be more to it than this.
Douglas
Her husband was transferred to Washington State for 3 months. She asked for leave to go with him. The boss would not meet with her until the last minute, when he said he still hadn't decided. Then, he sent her a note saying they were hiring someone to replace her, and she would only get her job back if that other person did not work out. She went to Washington and applied for unemployment. She doesn't collect because they say she quit without good cause.
Douglas Aircraft
The union contract requires unpaid maternity leave after the fifth month of pregnancy. The mother collects unemployment, and the employer is charged.
Drysdale
Work was supposed to start at 8:30. She would show up well after 9. Lunch was supposed to be an hour. She would take 3.
Evenson
He didn't like the way his union operated, so he refused to pay his dues, so he was fired. Now, he cannot collect unemployment because he did not pay his union dues!
First Aid
The company assigns EMTs and RNs to work first aid stations at events. They claim the people they assign are independent contractors, on whom they should not have to pay the unemployment tax.
Ghent
A county work relief program does not qualify a worker for unemployment.
Gunn
In determining whether she was able to work, the clerk at the unemployment office asked if she were pregnant, which she appeared to be. She refused to answer. She collects.
Hunt
A construction outfit does not want to pay unemployment tax on the employees by its unlicensed sub-contractors. The court says pay.
Jefferson
He was jailed six months for driving drunk.
Jones
He was laid off. He was entitled to accrued vacation pay. Therefore, he does not collect.
Kaylor
A man spent a week in jail, where they wouldn't let him use the phone. The employer knew where he was, but fired him anyway for unreported absence. He collects.
King
They fired him because he grew a beard. He collects.
Lewis
She took a leave of absence. When she returned, her job had been eliminated. She collects.
Maitland
The employer demoted her, cut her pay, and advised her that she could collect unemployment if she quit. So she quit.
Martinez et al
When new owners cut their pay by a third, they went on strike. They do not collect.
McGuire
His base period earnings were enough to qualify for unemployment, but not enough to qualify for extended benefits.
Medeiros
He refused to sign a disciplinary memorandum.
Metric Man
Are they employees or independent contractors?
Miller
You do not collect unemployment if you are fired by a family member.
Miranda
A clerk in the unemployment office interviewed him, decided he was eligible, and handed him a check. Next week, a supervisor at the unemployment office reviewed the decision and decided he should not collect. He thinks they should not be able to do that without a hearing.
Miranda and Zorrero
The employer has only five days to tell the department why claimant should not collect. But if the claimant responds late, their side can still be heard.
Molnar
He took his severance as a monthly check rather than in a lump sum. Now he wants the state to treat that monthly check as wages for the purpose of qualifying him for a second Unemployment claim.
Moore
Two electricians at a nuclear power plant heard in the news about safety violations at the plant. They refused to work in radiation areas. They collect.
Morrell
Workers at a meat plant voted to strike. The meat plant feared tons of rotting meat would fills their lockers, so the meat plant cancelled its order, cleaned out the freezers, and closed up until they got a new contract. But the meat cutters never actually did strike; they just voted to. So they collect.
Morris
A postal worker threatened his supervisors. He does not collect.
Morrison
She quit because men doing her same job were paid more.
NBC
When negotiations with the union broke off, the union struck, and goons began sabotaging company facilities across the country. A mediator arranged for new negotiations. The union told its members to return to work. But the company wanted assurance that the union would call off the goons. The union would give no such assurance. Because the employer won't open the doors while thugs destroy their plants, the workers want to call their strike a lockout so that they can collect unemployment.
Oliver
She was fired. She sued for unlawful termination. They settled for back wages. Do these wages disqualify her for unemployment benefits? The court seems to contradict itself here.
Pacific Maritime Association
Time and again, in every state, unions go to court trying to collect unemployment during a strike. Sometimes, they succeed. Here, the union struck, but these union members voted not to.
Pacific Maritime Association (2)
More of the same.
Perales
He quit his job pruning trees to go to school to learn English so he could get a better job. The court says that is not good cause to quit.
Robles
His poor friend had no shoes. He had a shoe allowance. He tried to use his shoe allowance to buy shoes for his friend. I kid you not. That's what they fired him for.
Russ
A teacher's aide cannot collect unemployment during summer vacation.
Screaming Eagle
SUTA dumping is when an employer tranfers employees from an account with a high unemployment tax rate to another account with a lower tax rate, to avoid tax.
Shand
Various flavors of severance prevent them from collecting unemployment.
Smith et al
The EDD does not want to pay unemployment to its own workers. They have found a loophole in the law to exempt themselves from the responsibility they enforce upon others.

The court complains: "these two statutes are less than limpid. The draftsman could have expressed the legislative decree in straightforward language. Unfortunately, he indulged in circumlocutions and ambiguities which generate the travail of statutory interpretation."

Sonic
Their delivery drivers are not independent contractors because they have no independent businesses and service no other customers.
Southwest Research
Companies very frequently attempt to avoid paying taxes on workers who they regard as independent contractors, and they almost never ever win. In this very exceptional case, a company was able to avoid the tax on an independent contractor, and the case is worth reading, because it illustrates how to do it.
Spangler
The EDD ceased to pay him unemployment when he grew his hair and beard. But the EDD never sent him on any interviews anyway, so he collects.
Staley
At her hearing, she had a free lawyer from a legal aid outfit. But she lost the hearing. Now, she claims the hearing decision should be set aside because she never had a lawyer at her hearing because she never paid the lawyer that she had at her hearing because he worked for free.
Steinberg
She worked for a company where all employees but her were relatives of the owner. She would not talk to any of them, because it stressed her out.
Stout
He passed out handbills derogatory to the employer.
Swaby
A seasonal grape picker made only three trips to his union hall from August to November. That is not sufficient search for work.
Thornton
Yet another guy fired for wearing a beard and long hair. These long-hair-and-beard cases seem peculiar to California.
Tomlin
She was laid off her full time job, but she was denied unemployment because she quit her part-time job.
UAW
The plant closed down for a month to retool. These workers applied for unemployment. But instead of reporting to the unemployment office each week, they left the state.
West Foods
Mushroom pickers went on strike. Mushrooms rotted. When the strike ended, there were no mushrooms to pick until a new crop was started. During this period between the end of the strike and the new crop coming in, the pickers can collect.
Wheeler
He worked for a private individual building a house; not for a business building houses. Therefore, he does not collect unemployment!
White
Over $400,000 in fines and damages result from a dispute over a paper cup. This case hinges on whether a supervisor attending an unemployment hearing is a corporate agent. He is.
Winters
Yet another teacher attempts to collect unemployment during the summer vacation.
Young
Sears required women be fired after six months of pregnancy. A woman collected unemployment when fired that way. Sears appealed on a technicality. The Appeal Board denied her benefits. She went to court. The court agreed with her, and told Sears to pay court costs. Sears now comes to court saying the Appeal Board should have to pay the court costs, since, after all, it was the Board's decision which the court found in error. This court says no, the Board gets to decide, but the company has to pay.
Zorrero
His car broke down. He didn't want to buy another one. It took him two hours to get to work by bus. So he quit. The company missed the filing deadline by weeks. Nevertheless, he does not collect.
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