Unemployment Compensation Review Commission
Chapter Nine

Offers of Work and Referrals to Work

A. Generally

  1. No individual may serve a waiting period or be paid benefits for the duration of the individual's unemployment IF the Director finds that the individual has refused without good cause to accept an offer of suitable work OR has refused or failed to investigate a referral to suitable work when directed to do so by a local employment office. {ORC §4141.29(D)(2)(b)}
    1. This disqualification will not be imposed if work is offered by the individual's employer and the individual is not required to accept the offer pursuant to the terms of the labor-management contract or agreement. {ORC §4141.29(D)(2)(b)(i)}
    2. This disqualification will not be imposed if the individual is attending a training course under Ohio Revised Code Section 4141.29(A)(4). {ORC §4141.29(D)(2)(b)(ii)}
  2. Ohio Revised Code Section 4141.29(D)(2)(b) requires two separate determinations to be made in order to deny a claim. Although the inquiries are obviously interrelated, separate tests have been developed for each inquiry. Pratt v. Kirby Co. (1984), 19 Ohio App.3d 188.
    1. First, that the claimant had refused suitable work; AND
    2. Second, that the refusal was without good cause.
  3. The individual must have actually received the offer or referral before the disqualification can be imposed. Rabal v. Board of Review (Mar. 6, 1978), Richland CP No. 77-559-L, unreported.
  4. It is the policy of the Review Commission and ODJFS that when an individual refuses an offer of suitable work without just cause, but the offer of work was for one week or less, the individual will only be held to have been able to obtain suitable work during the week claimed under Ohio Revised Code Section 4141.29(A)(5).

B. Suitable Work

  1. No otherwise qualified individual shall lose the right to benefits for refusing to accept work IF:
    1. As a condition of the new work, the individual would be required to join a company union, quit or refrain from joining any bona fide labor organization, OR would be denied the right to retain membership in and observe the lawful rules of a bona fide labor organization. {ORC §4141.29(E)(1)} However, the denial of the right to join, retain membership in, or observe the lawful rules of a bona fide labor organization MUST be a condition of the offered work, not simply a result of some rule or regulation of the labor organization. Chambers v. Owens-Ames-Kimball Co. (1946), 146 Ohio St. 559.
    2. The new work offered is vacant due directly to a strike, lockout, OR other labor dispute. {ORC §4141.29(E)(2)}
  2. No otherwise qualified individual shall lose the right to benefits for refusing to accept work IF the work is at an unreasonable distance from the individual's residence. This evaluation is dependent on: {ORC §4141.29(E)(3)}
    1. Whether the travel expenses are substantially greater than that required for the individual's former work, unless the employer provides for these expenses; AND
    2. The character of the work the claimant has been accustomed to doing. For example, if a claimant works for a construction company that performs work at various job sites within a 150-mile radius of a city, an offer of work within that same radius will be suitable with respect to the distance of travel required. See Hill v. Administrator (Jan. 25, 1999), Adams App. No. 98 CA 662.
  3. No otherwise qualified individual shall lose the right to benefits for refusing to accept work IF the remuneration, hours, or other conditions of the work offered are substantially less favorable to the individual than those prevailing for similar work in the locality. {ORC §4141.29(E)(4)}
    1. Remuneration. Although the statute does not expressly allow consideration of a reduction in income, a review of the case law demonstrates that there is ample authority for permitting the consideration of an individual's reduction in pay. Feldman v. Loeb (1987), 37 Ohio App.3d 188 (holding than an individual is not required to accept proffered new employment immediately, at a substantially lower rate of pay).
    2. Hours. The offered work cannot be substantially less favorable to the individual.
  4. In determining whether any work is suitable, consideration shall also be given to the following: {ORC §4141.29(F)}
    1. Degree of risk to the individual's health, safety, or morals. The fact that an individual may not have complained about alleged unsafe working conditions in the past does NOT prevent that individual from asserting that the offered work was not suitable because it posed an unreasonable safety risk. Clay v. Administrator (Feb. 23, 1994), Montgomery App. No. 14084, unreported.
    2. Individual's physical fitness for the work. An individual who refuses offered work for valid medical reasons need not notify the employer of any medical problem or ask if other work is available. Hubbard v. Wilson Sporting Goods Co. (Dec. 30, 1983), Lawrence App. No. 1720, unreported.
    3. Individual's prior training and experience. Suitable work is not limited to the work which the individual customarily performs, but includes the work that the individual could learn to perform given the individual's skills, training, and experience. Austin v. Administrator (Apr. 4, 1988), Huron CP No. 50369, unreported.
    4. Length of the individual's unemployment.
    5. Distance of the available work from the individual's residence.
    6. Individual's prospects for obtaining local work.

C. Good Cause

  1. The test for good cause under Ohio Revised Code Section 4141.29(D) is set forth in Peyton v. Sun T.V. (1975), 44 Ohio App.2d 10:
    1. "There is, of course, not a slide-rule definition of just cause. Essentially, each case must be considered upon its own particular merits."
    2. "Traditionally, just cause, in the statutory sense, is that which, to an ordinary intelligent person, is a justifiable reason for doing or not doing a particular act."
  2. An individual does NOT have good cause to refuse an offer of work simply because the offering employer previously discharged the individual without just cause in connection with work. Skidmore v. Lorain Goodwill Industry, 1987 Ohio App. LEXIS 5961 (claimant was fired as the store manager, but offered a job as a clerk).
  3. In Goings v. U.C. Board of Review, 1984 Ohio App. LEXIS 11716, a school principal's contract was not renewed because of the closing of three schools. It was held that he refused suitable work in a teaching position without good cause.