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Health/Safety fears justify employee’s refusal to work

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in Employee Benefits Program,Human Resources

Florida employees who refuse to work because of health or safety reasons can still receive unemployment benefits. So you'll be on the hook for paying UI benefits if an employee quits for "good cause," such as fear of driving at night in an unreliable vehicle, crime or the welfare of an unborn child.

Recent case: When Miami Beach security guard Valerie Gibson became pregnant, she asked Vanguard Security to reassign her to a less stressful position. She collected unemployment until her employer offered her another job three bus rides from her home. Her doctors advised her not to take public transportation, so Gibson rejected the offer.

The Florida Unemployment Appeals Commission said she refused work without good cause and took away her benefits. An appeals court disagreed, concluding that fear for one's health justifies quitting or rejecting a job. (Gibson v. Florida Unemployment Appeals Commission, No. 3D05-2252, Court of Appeals of Florida, 2006)  

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