An upstate appeals court has confirmed a decision from the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board which held that a nurse who quit her employment when certain ethical concerns she raised with her employer’s management went unaddressed was entitled to unemployment insurance benefits.
Jane Emery worked as a per diem clinical nurse who provided supplemental coverage in the presurgical unit for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In June, 2007, the Cancer Center implemented a policy change which required nurses to acknowledge that they had witnessed patients sign an informed consent form, regardless of whether they actually witnessed the signature or simply confirmed the signature with the patient after the fact.
Ms. Emery expressed concern over this policy, believing that it could subject her to professional discipline. When she was instructed to adhere to the policy, and that no change was imminent, Ms. Emery asked to be removed from the nursing schedule and, some time thereafter, effectively resigned.
Ms. Emery then applied for unemployment insurance benefits, which the employer contested. The Unemployment Insurance Administrative Law Judge found Ms. Emery eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, and the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board confirmed that decision. The Cancer Center then appealed in state court.
The state appellate court affirmed the decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board, finding that under the circumstances, Ms. Emery had “good cause” to leave her employment.