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Voluntary Abandonment of Employment

In State ex rel. Parraz v. Diamond Crystal Brands, Inc., ­__ Ohio St.3d ­­­__, 2014-Ohio-4260, the claimant sustained a compensable injury allowed for “sprain lumbosacral, left”.  The employer accommodated her medical restrictions and no temporary total disability compensation was paid. Claimant was employed under a union contract which contained a point-based attendance policy providing for termination after 14 accumulated points. On the date of injury, claimant had already accumulated 10.5 attendance points. Shortly thereafter, claimant received a final written warning when she accumulated 12 attendance points, and was eventually terminated 9 months after the injury when she accumulated 14 attendance points. She immediately filed for temporary total disability compensation after termination from employment. The Industrial Commission denied payment of temporary total disability compensation finding the claimant voluntarily abandoned her employment. Claimant filed a complaint for a writ of mandamus arguing her absences were negligent, not willful or intentional, and she should receive temporary total disability compensation. Both the Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the denial of temporary total disability compensation holding that the employee’s violation of a work rule or policy need not be willful or deliberate, but merely a voluntary act the employee knew may lead to termination of employment.  The court determined the repeated absences demonstrated an indifference to and disregard for written and known workplaces rules and policies.  As such, the absences were sufficient to support a finding of voluntary abandonment of employment. You can read the full opinion here.

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