Proceeding in this Court
Alicia Doxon, Petitioner Pro Se.
Pixton, Attorney for Respondent.
Judges Stephen L. Roth, Kate A. Toomey, and David N.
Sara Alicia Doxon petitions for judicial review of the
Workforce Appeals Board's (the Board) decision denying
her unemployment benefits. We decline to disturb the
The Board's decision on a request for unemployment
benefits is a mixed question of fact and law that is more
fact-like than law-like because "the case does not lend
itself to consistent resolution by a uniform body of
appellate precedent." See Carbon County v. Workforce
Appeals Board, 2013 UT 41, ¶ 7, 308 P.3d 477
(citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
"Because of the fact-intensive conclusions involved at
the agency level, " the Board's determination is
entitled to deference. See id. "When a
petitioner challenges an agency's findings of fact, we
are required to uphold the findings if they are supported by
substantial evidence when viewed in light of the whole record
before the court." Stauffer v. Department of
Workforce Services, 2014 UT App 63, ¶ 5, 325 P.3d
109 (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).
The Department of Workforce Services denied unemployment
benefits because it found that Doxon voluntarily quit her job
without good cause. An administrative law judge (ALJ)
affirmed that denial, and the Board affirmed the decision to
deny benefits. Individuals are not entitled to unemployment
benefits if they quit absent good cause. See Utah
Code Ann. § 35A-4-405(1)(a) (LexisNexis 2015). Because
Doxon chose to quit, she was the moving party in the
separation and therefore had the burden to establish good
cause for the decision to quit. See Utah Admin. Code
R994-405-105. "To establish good cause, a claimant must
show that continuing the employment would have caused an
adverse effect which the claimant could not control or
prevent. The claimant must show that an immediate severance
of the employment relationship was necessary."
Id. R994-405-102. Establishing an adverse effect
requires a showing of "actual or potential physical,
mental, economic, personal or professional harm caused or
aggravated by the employment." Id.
R994-405-102(1)(a). "The claimant's decision to quit
must be measured against the actions of an average
individual, not one who is unusually sensitive."
Id. Good cause is not established if the claimant
reasonably could have continued working while looking for
other employment, or had reasonable alternatives to preserve
the job. Id. R994-405-102(1)(b).
The Board determined that Doxon did not establish good cause
for quitting her employment under the applicable statute and
rules. There is little, if any, dispute about the reasons
that Doxon quit her job of almost sixteen years. Doxon
consistently stated in her filings and testimony that she
resigned so she could move back to California and be closer
to family. She had been considering this move for about a
year before she actually resigned. The timing of her
resignation and move was influenced by the fact that her
sister was leaving Utah to move to California. Indeed,
throughout the agency proceedings, Doxon stated that she
loved her job and chose to leave her long-term employment to
move to California to be nearer to family. We defer to the
Board's conclusions that Doxon "made the voluntary
choice to quit for purely personal reasons" and
"failed to produce convincing evidence that remaining
employed created a hardship she was unable to control or
prevent and she acted reasonable when she quit."
Before the Board and this court, Doxon argues that she made
diligent efforts to find employment in California-starting
months before she quit her job-and should not be disqualified
from receiving benefits. The Board explained that the
sincerity of Doxon's efforts to obtain work were not at
issue. Instead, the decision to quit without first finding
another job was examined for reasonableness. We defer to the
Board's determination that even if the job search proved
to be more difficult than she hoped, it was not reasonable to
resign before obtaining new employment.
Where a claimant does not demonstrate good cause for
voluntarily quitting her employment "the equity and good
conscience standard must be considered . . . . If there are
mitigating circumstances and a denial of benefits would be
unreasonably harsh or an affront to fairness, benefits may be
allowed[.]" Id. R994-405-103(1). However, a
claimant must have acted reasonably in quitting. Id.
R994-405-103(1)(a). A claimant's actions may be
reasonable "if the decision to quit was logical,
sensible, or practical." Id. We defer to the
Board's conclusion that Doxon's actions were not
reasonable even "under the relaxed standards of
equity." Doxon also has argued that she deserves
unemployment benefits based upon her long employment and that
her employer was wrongfully refusing to pay her these
benefits. However, the Board correctly explained that the
Department of Workforce Services is solely responsible for
determining whether or not she was eligible for benefits. We
do not disturb the Board's decision that Doxon was not
entitled to benefits under the equity and good conscience
Accordingly, we decline to disturb the Board's decision