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Beaman v. Safeway Stores

Supreme Court of Arizona

December 28, 1954

James A. BEAMAN, John M. Sakrison and John H. Curnutte, as members of and constituting the Employment Security Commission of Arizona, Appellant,
v.
SAFEWAY STORES, Inc., Appellee.

Page 1011

[78 Ariz. 197] Ross F. Jones, Atty. Gen., and D. Kelly Turner, Sp. Asst. to Atty. Gen., for appellant.

Snell & Wilmer, Phoenix, for appellee.

WINDES, Justice.

On March 7, 1952, following negotiations with their employers (operators of food markets in Tucson), members of the meat cutters union (Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen, Local No. 109) left their work and went on strike. Picket lines were established at the food markets of the different employers, among them Safeway Stores, Inc., hereinafter designated appellee. During the progress of the strike, appellee kept open several of its stores and continued to operate therein the [78 Ariz. 198] part of its business relating to retail selling of groceries, which was located on the same premises as the meat department at each store. Certain employees of the grocery departments, hereinafter called claimants, who were members of another union, refused to cross the picket lines and made application under the provisions of the Unemployment Security Act for unemployment compensation during the period they were off work.

The Employment Security Commission allowed benefits to claimants and approved findings and conclusions of its special deputy in effect: (1) That the meat department and grocery department of appellee at the stores where claimants were employed were separate branches of work and should be treated as separate establishments on separate premises; (2) That there was a stoppage of work in the meat department; (3) That there was no stoppage of work in the grocery department; (4) That claimants participated in the strike by their refusal to cross picket lines; and (5) That claimants were not disqualified to receive compensation benefits because there was no stoppage of work at the establishment where they were last employed, i. e., the grocery department.

Appellee filed in the superior court of Maricopa county a petition for judicial review of the commission's decision. The lower court ruled that the claimants were

Page 1012

not entitled to benefits upon the following grounds:

(1) That they voluntarily left their employment without good cause within the meaning of section 56-1005(a), A.C.A.1939, as amended, section 5, chapter 124, Laws 1941;

(2) That they refused to accept suitable employment as required by section 56-1005(c), A.C.A.1939, as amended, section 5, chapter 124, Laws 1941; and

(3) That they were unavailable for work under the provisions of section 56-1004(d), A.C.A.1939, as amended, section 4, chapter 124, Laws 1941.

The compensation allowed by the commission having already been paid, the court below rendered judgment reversing the commission and directing that appellee should not be charged with the benefits so paid. The commission appeals, taking the position that when there exists a fact situation which warrants the application of one ground for disqualification or ineligibility, that and only that ground is the one which may be used. In other words it is claimed that the respective grounds for disqualification are mutually exclusive and since subdivision (d) of section 56-1005, supra, is applicable, no other may be applied by the court.

The approach to the problem calls for a consideration of the over-all purpose of the act and then, if possible, a giving effect to all provisions to the end that they shall operate without confusion. If possible, we should find a logical purpose and reason for all its provisions. There can [78 Ariz. 199] be no question but that the central overall purpose intended to be accomplished by the entire act is to allow compensation for a limited period of time to those capable of working and available for work who are involuntarily unemployed through no fault of their own. Section 56-1001, A.C.A.1939, as amended, section 1, chapter 124, Laws 1941. Those incapacitated for any work, those not incapacitated but not available for work or those not working through some fault of their own cannot draw compensation. Incapacity and unavailability are matters of eligibility under the provisions of section 56-1004, supra, and so long as such status prevails, there are no conditions under which one can draw compensation. Bliley Electric Co. v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 158 Pa.Super. 548, 45 A.2d 898. One becoming unemployed through some fault of his own is not necessarily ineligible but may be disqualified under the provisions of section 56-1005, supra. Dan River Mills, Inc. v. Unemployment Compensation Commission, 195 Va. 997, 81 S.E.2d 620.

When unemployment occurs, we become primarily concerned with the cause of such unemployment in deciding whether the claimant is entitled to compensation. If the primary cause is ineligibility under the provisions of 56-1004, supra, that should be the basis of denying compensation; if the primary cause be disqualification for one of the reasons set forth in 56-1005, supra, that should be the basis of withholding compensation as prescribed. Ineligibility and disqualification as used in the act do not mean the same thing and are not intended to be applicable to the same conditions. Eligibility relates to 'a status indispensable to the operation of the act' whereas disqualification refers to a limited deprivation of benefits because of a specific affirmative act. Muraski v. Board of Review, etc., 136 N.J.L. 472, 56 A.2d 713, 714; Krauss v. A. & M. Karagheusian, Inc., 13 N.J. 447, 100 A.2d 277. In dealing with a period of unemployment one ineligible can receive no compensation so long as such status continues; one merely disqualified can receive no compensation for the limited portion of such period of unemployment prescribed by the subdivision of the statute which prescribes the grounds for disqualification (for voluntarily leaving without good cause under subdivision (a), five weeks; for refusing to accept suitable employment under subdivision (c), not to exceed six weeks). If the facts place the claimant in the category of ineligibility, there is no occasion nor justification for invoking the disqualification provisions. Disqualification assumes eligibility and the provisions concerning disqualification have no application to one unless he is otherwise eligible. Swanson v. Minneapolis-Honeywell

Page 1013

Regulator Co., Minn., 61 ...


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