ALJ = Michael Abzug (Administrative Law Judge)
J = Christopher J. Knorps (Ex-Temp)
A = Alexandria Watson (Accountemps)
A: This is Alexandria Watson!
ALJ: Yeah Ms. Watson this is Judge Abzug, are you ready to proceed?
A: Yes I am.
ALJ: Alright, the record is open, the case number 2433504, the claimant, Mr. Christopher Knorps, is present. Also present on behalf of the former employer, Accountemps, is Alexandria Watson. Ms. Watson what is your job title please?
A: I am a Metro Market Manager.
ALJ: The Administrative Law Judge is Michael Abzug, today’s date is July 18, 2008, the time is now 10:00 AM and the hearing is being conducted at the Los Angeles Board of Appeals. The claimant has filed a timely appeal from a department (indistinct) determination, mailed to him on May 23, 2008, that held that he was disqualified for benefits under code section 1256. The issue that we are going to be addressing today is how and why Mr. Knorps became separated from his most recent work. If I find that he voluntarily abandoned work that was available to him, then the issue will be whether he did so with good cause. “Good cause” is a legal term that is defined as a real and compelling reason to leave available work, the kind of reason that would have caused somebody in Mr. Knorps’s situation, who genuinely wanted to retain employment, to take similar action. If he voluntarily left with good cause, he will not be disqualified for benefits, and the employer’s reserve account will be subject to charges. Mr. Knorps, do you understand the issue that we are going to be addressing?
J: Yes, I do.
ALJ: Do you as well, Ms. Watson.
ALJ: Ms. Watson, was a copy of the appeal file mailed out to you?
ALJ: Did you review it?
A: Yes I have.
ALJ: Mr. Knorps, did you review….
J: Is this it?
ALJ: The documents in the file? The reason I ask that is because in a few moments I am going to mark certain of those documents as exhibits so that I can consider what they say as part of the basis on which I am going to make my decision eventually. My decision is also going to be based on what other evidence is introduced at this morning’s proceedings, which, at a minimum I expect will include the sworn testimony of Mr. Knorps as well as Ms. Watson. After I mark these documents as exhibits, I will ask each party if they have any objection to their admission into evidence. You’re not required to make objections of course, but if you do I will consider them. After I have considered those documents (indistinct) I will then take testimony. It at least preliminarily appears that Mr. Knorps is the moving party of the separation, and we will begin by taking testimony from him. I will ask him to swear to tell the truth which I am required to do by law, I will ask him a few questions about the issues that I have outlined a few minutes ago, and when finished, he can add to his proof either by supplementing his own testimony, introducing documents, calling witnesses, in case he thinks there is something I have inadvertently overlooked that I need to know in order to make a good decision. I will also give Ms. Watson the opportunity to question Mr. Knorps if she likes. Ms. Watson you are not required to ask the claimant any questions – I am going to give the employer a separate opportunity to tell me its side of the story – but if you want to ask any questions, I’ll give you that reasonable opportunity to do so.
A: Okay great, thank you.
ALJ: When we’re finished taking testimony from the claimant, we’ll take the testimony from Ms. Watson that will follow the same order of proof, that is I’ll swear her, I’ll ask her some questions, I’ll give Ms. Watson the opportunity to add to her proof the same way I gave Mr. Knorps the opportunity to add to his proof, and then we’ll conclude by giving Mr. Knorps the same right that I gave to Ms. Watson, that is if he wants to ask her questions he can do so, but he is not required to. When we’re finished I’ll thank everybody for their appearances, I’m not going to make my decision today, I’ve got to make it later in writing and a copy will be mailed to each party, clearly (?) EDD, probably in about 20 business days. Mr. Knorps do you think you understand the procedures?
J: Yes I do.
ALJ: Do you have any questions about them?
ALJ: Ms. Watson, do you understand the procedures?
A: Yes I do.
ALJ: Do you have any questions about the procedure?
A: No I do not.
(ALJ reads the various exhibits he is marking into evidence, exhibits 1-7, asks if there are any objections, to which Mr. Knorps replies no.)
ALJ: Ms. Watson, have you reviewed 1-7?
A: I have – I do have to say that the record of claim status interview is not legible to me – I can’t read the writing on the document….(A short discussion about this follows)
ALJ: Claimant states that he voluntarily quit because the company did not offer him permanent full-time work at the company.
J: That’s not, really….
ALJ: Well just a second, I’m just reading it. I’ll give you a chance to comment in a moment. Claimant states he is looking for full-time work, not willing to do temporary assignment work. Claimant states he did not want to be working there anymore. He wanted to do something different. He wants to write a book or novel. Or technical writing, screenwriting. If he does not have the experience
ALJ: He wants to work in the writing industry. Um.
A: Now just….
ALJ: One second, please. I’m just reading it, and then everyone will be given a chance to comment, I’m not going to cut anybody off. The employer said that the claimant is no longer working with the company and cannot provide any additional information. The EDD basically concludes that claimant’s decision to voluntarily quit to look for work was personal, a personal decision, therefore, in their opinion, he is disqualified. So that is the substance of the interview that occurred on May 22, 2008. Now that I have read that to you, Ms. Watson, any objection to the admission of exhibits 1-7.
A: No, just so I completely understand, so this is the information that was gathered from my company, by the EDD is that correct?
ALJ: No, that’s not correct. What happens when somebody separates from work for any reason and applies for benefits, there is what’s called a “claim status interview” which is a telephone interview conducted by the EDD to figure out whether the circumstances of the separation merit benefits under the law. What I just read you were the notes of the department representative who spoke to the claimant and who spoke to the employer representative.
A: Okay, so the claimant let the EDD know that he was interested in writing screenplays, because that’s what I’m trying to confirm.
ALJ: That’s the allegation, yes.
A: Okay, then I understand. Thank you.
ALJ: Any objections to the admission of 1-7?
ALJ: Mr. Knorps, now that I’ve read that exhibit, would you like to raise any objections to the admission of 1-7?
J: Well when I did that interview, I really don’t think the proper scrutiny was paid attention to. I just feel as if the separation from the company was not as clear cut as being a “quit” or a “fire” or a “laid off,” okay?
ALJ: Alright, well excuse me for interrupting you, I’ll try not to do it again, I’ll construe your remarks as an objection to the exhibits and respectfully overrule them, as I mentioned to you before the fact that I admit them into evidence doesn’t necessarily mean that I believe every word they say, or that they’re accurate, and it certainly doesn’t mean I am going to rule against you, it just means that I think the documents may be relevant – how relevant I won’t make up my mind until I’ve heard everything that you and Ms. Watson have to say so, 1-7 are received. Mr. Knorps, please raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear, or affirm, that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
J: I do.
ALJ: State your name please.
J: Christopher John Knorps.
ALJ: Alright Mr. Knorps I’m going to ask you a few questions. How long were you registered to work with Accountemps?
J: Roughly six months – between October 28 to May 2, October 28, 2007 to May 2, 2008.
ALJ: Alright, on May 2, 2008, where were you assigned, who was the employer at the time?
J: Jefferies & Co.
ALJ: What was your job title with Jefferies & Co.?
J: I was accounts payable clerk.
ALJ: Full time work?
ALJ: And what was the wage at the time of separation?
J: $13 an hour.
ALJ: And how long had you been working for Jefferies & Co.?
J: Six months.
ALJ: Alright well what caused the separation on May 2nd?
J: Well previously, about a month previous, my supervisor Maria Magpantay kind of talked to me about leaving. It was kind of a mutual agreement to leave. I did not tell her that I wanted to quit. She didn’t tell me, that you know, she didn’t think my performance was up to standards. I asked for a full-time position because there was one person who had recently left, and she said she wasn’t able to hire me full-time….
ALJ: You mean a permanent position?
J: Yes, with Jefferies & Co.
ALJ: I understand, okay.
J: She told me that wasn’t going to be possible. And when I started working there, Accountemps had told me it was going to be a 6 month temp-to-perm position, so my understanding was that at the end of the six months I would be offered a permanent position with the assignment company. So when they told me, you know, we just kind of have to leave May 2, I didn’t really have any objection to that, because I had already started looking for new work – I had had a friend who tried to get me a job with UCLA and I was looking for something else, and it’s true I was trying to change careers from accounting, so there is some truth to that, but there is also just, the way it ended was ambiguous I guess, and it wasn’t properly communicated in the interview I guess.
ALJ: Alright let’s back up a little bit, who at Accountemps assigned you the job?
J: Shezzad Allaudin. But Jessica has been my representative.
ALJ: The person you spoke to about the offer was Shezzad?
ALJ: And what did she tell you about how long the job would last?
J: He said it would be six months.
ALJ: Six months?
J: Yes, but it was temp-to-perm. And I guess maybe that wasn’t properly explained to me what temp-to-perm meant, but I was under the impression that it meant that, after you were there for six months, they would hire you full time.
ALJ: The person you spoke to about a month before the separation, what was her or his name?
J: Maria Magpantay, she was my supervisor at Jefferies & Co.
ALJ: When you spoke to her and she told you that they weren’t going to hire you permanently, did she tell you that May 2 would be your last day?
J: Well we agreed. She said do you want to make it for a month, just say a month from now, and I said yes, I think it’s best if I leave in a month, I want to try to find something else.
ALJ: Alright, I’m going to ask you a hypothetical, what do you think would have happened if you had said, no, I want to stay on past May 2nd?
J: She probably would have said that was okay. If I had wanted to do I could have stayed.
ALJ: Alright, so why did you decide to leave on May 2nd rather than stay?
J: Well, this is going to be…Well, I switched apartments from the West Side to Silverlake, and the offices were about a 5 minute drive from my place on the west side and now it was going to be like a 45 minute drive, so…
ALJ: One way?
J: Yes, I had commuted for a few days doing it, and it was just kind of assumed that once I moved to a new apartment I would move to a new job….In hindsight it was a mistake. (laughs)
ALJ: Well I’m not trying to confront you or make you uncomfortable. I’m just trying to get information. So you were living in Westwood and you were moving where?
ALJ: Oh you were moving to Silverlake.
J: I live there now. But I was living in Palms before.
ALJ: Where the new jobsite is.
J: Yes. The new job site is in Beverly Hills. I just started working there this week.
ALJ: No, no. I meant, they moved you from the west side to Silverlake at Jefferies & Co. Is that right?
J: Oh no, no, their offices are on the west side. I am talking about my personal apartment.
ALJ: So you moved to Silverlake before May 2nd?
J: Yes, I moved there, like, April 28, that’s when my lease began.
ALJ: Okay, anything else, did you have any other job to go to at the time you abandoned work on May 2nd?
ALJ: Anything else you want to tell me?
J: I believe that’s all the relevant information.
ALJ: Okay, thank you. Ms. Watson are you still with us?
A: Yeah, I’m still here. I only heard bits and pieces of Christopher’s testimony, I don’t know if it was my phone or if he’s on a cell phone that’s cutting out.
ALJ: Well I wish you would have told me that before this time, we could have tried to make the testimony more audible to you, what is it you want me to do now that you haven’t heard it?
A: Well I think I got the gist of it, I just want to tell you that I don’t think I heard everything, I just didn’t think I was allowed to interrupt. I apologize.
ALJ: That’s fine. Let me do this, what I will do, is attempt to accurately summarize what Mr. Knorps has said, and Mr. Knorps why don’t you listen carefully and if I’ve left out anything material at the end you can add it so that Ms. Watson is fully informed. Okay. Here’s what he said. He said that he had been registered to work for Accountemps for six months. He had one job only – apparently – and that was with Jefferies & Co., which was located on the west side. He was accounts payable clerk, full-time, and his wage was $13 an hour. He was given the assignment by a man named Shezzad who told him that it was a six month temp-to-perm assignment, so that, for about five months, he went along and worked, and then had a conversation with his supervisor at Jefferies & Co., Maria Maganya, about whether he was going to be given a permanent position. Ms. Maganya informed him that he would not and asked him basically what he wanted to do, and whether he wanted to make May 2 his last day, and he said – he agreed. He agreed. I asked him whether he believed that continuing work was available to him if he had told Ms. Maganya if he had told her that he wanted to continue working as a temp, and he said that he believed continuing work was available to him, if he wanted to work as a temp, but he decided to leave work on May 2, 2008, because he moved from the west side to Silverlake on April 28, 2008, and he found that the switch from a 5-minute commute to a 45-minute commute one way was burdensome, and that he just generally felt that since he had switched apartments, he should probably switch jobs too, which in retrospect he believes may have been a mistake. At the time he left available work on May 2nd, he did not have another job, although he was hoping to switch industries. Mr. Knorps have I summarized your testimony accurately?
J: Very accurately.
ALJ: Anything else you want to add to the record?
J: Just Maria Magpantay, was her name.
ALJ: Anything else I material I missed?
ALJ: Ms. Watson, did you hear me?
A: I did absolutely, thank you so much.
ALJ: Any questions you want to ask Mr. Knorps?
A: No, I think it’s pretty clear cut to me.
ALJ: Then raise your right hand.
A: Right hand raised.
ALJ: Do you solemnly swear the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?
A: Yes I do.
ALJ: State your name.
A: Alexandria Watson.
ALJ: And your job title?
A: Metro Market Manager.
ALJ: Alright Ms. Watson is there anything that the employer wants to add to the record that you think I need to know before I close it?
A: The only thing I would add is that Jefferies & Co. is a consistent client with us, and they pretty much never convert candidates to permanent. So the documentation in my system for this particular assignment states that it was long term, comma, possible temp-to-hire, and we always let candidates know that there is a possibility that things will go temp-to-hire, but this particular candidate…we’ve had candidates work out there for three years on a temporary engagement and not convert. So I just wanted to make sure that was stated clearly, that I know that we did not assure that this was going to be a temp-to-hire.
ALJ: Well, okay, that’s fine you have stated it, and I don’t have the impression from Mr. Knorps’s testimony that he was in any way guaranteed a permanent position.
ALJ: Alright, anything else?
ALJ: Alright Mr. Knorps any questions for Ms. Watson?
ALJ: Anything else you want to add to the record that you think I need to know?
ALJ: Alright, okay, well Mr. Knorps good luck out in Silverlake. I hope things turn around for you, and that your switch to a new industry is successful. Take care of yourself. This record is closed.