Barkan Meizlish , May 14, 2015
An employee is precluded from recovering temporary total compensation when they voluntarily abandon their position of employment. An employee voluntarily abandons their position when they violate (1) clearly defined, prohibited workplace conduct, (2) that was previously identified by the employer as a dischargeable offense, and (3) was known or should have been known by the employee. State Ex rel. Louisiana-Pacific Corp. v. Indus. Comm., 72 Ohio St. 3d 401, 650 N.E.2d 469 (1995). An example of voluntary abandonment is when an employee fails to show up for work without informing their employer for a certain number of consecutive days.
In a recent case, the Supreme Court of Ohio held that an employee, who was discharged by their employer, voluntarily abandoned their employment by violating a written workplace policy, which required termination upon exceeding the limit of allowed instances of tardiness or absences. State Ex rel. Parraz v. Diamond Crystal Brands, Inc., Slip Opinion No. 2014-Ohio-4260 (2014). The employee argued that her absences from work were due to external reasons, and thus not voluntary. Id. at ¶ 6. However, because the employee was aware of the attendance policy and still failed to show up for work or provide documentation of the absence, the Court held that the violation did not need to be voluntary. Id. at ¶ 16.
Thus, the Court held that an employee’s termination can constitute voluntary abandonment of a former position. Discharge “is often a consequence of behavior that the claimant willingly undertook, and may thus take on a voluntary character.” Louisiana-Pacific, 72 Ohio St.3d at 403, 650 N.E.2d 469, quoting State ex rel. Watts v. Schottenstein Stores Corp., 68 Ohio St.3d 118, 121, 623 N.E.2d 1202 (1993). Therefore, an employee’s violation of a work rule or policy need not be willful or deliberate, but merely a voluntary act that the employee knew may lead to termination of employment. State ex rel. Brown v. Hoover Universal, Inc., 132 Ohio St. 3d 520, 2012-Ohio-3895, 974 N.E.2d 1198, ¶ 11.
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