Florida Case Law

BOGARDUS v. JUSTICE ADMINISTRATIVE, 3D06-1127 (Fla.App. 3 Dist. 11-15-2006) JUAN BOGARDUS, Appellant, v. JUSTICE ADMINISTRATIVE COMMISSION and FLORIDA UNEMPLOYMENT APPEALS COMMISSION, Appellee. Case No. 3D06-1127. District Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District. Opinion filed November 15, 2006.

An Appeal from the Florida Unemployment Appeals
Commission, Lower Tribunal No. 06-1929.

Juan Bogardus, in proper person.

John Maher for appellee, Florida Unemployment Appeals


WELLS, Judge.

Juan Bogardus appeals from a final order of the
Unemployment Appeals Commission affirming a decision of an
appeals referee disqualifying Bogardus from receiving
unemployment compensation benefits. We affirm.

Bogardus became an OPS[fn1] employee of the Broward County
Guardian ad Litem Program in March 2004. In late October
2005, the GAL’s offices sustained heavy damage from
Hurricane Wilma. As a consequence, for several weeks,
according to Bogardus, he was working reduced hours and
receiving some unemployment compensation.

When the employees finally returned to work, they were
asked on a voluntary basis to assist in moving into
temporary office space. Bogardus, who had an existing
medical condition, volunteered to assist in these tasks but
after a few days began to notice a decline in his health.

On November 14, 2005, Bogardus approached his supervisor,
Patty Walker, and told her that because of his medical
condition and the stress of the drive from his home in
Miami-Dade to work in Broward County, he was quitting his

REFEREE: Okay. And was the claimant discharged, or did he

WALKER: He quit.

REFEREE: Okay. Did he give notice to you that he was

WALKER: He — on November — I believe it was
on November 14th, he approached me, and we were in
temporary quarters in another building after — you
know, our building was damaged by the hurricane. He
approached me and — and Annette Hutchings, our HR
liaison was with me as well, to let me know that he had,
you know, spoken to his family and, due to his medical
condition that seemed to be worsening and the drive was
putting extra stress on that situation, that he felt it
was best to leave his position to take care of his medical
issues. You know, to be able to address those.

Bogardus admitted that he did not provide a doctor’s note
stating that he should or could not perform his work nor did
he ask for some other work that would not affect his

REFEREE: Okay. Did a doctor tell you you could not work?

BOGARDUS: . . . Not exactly, but I was advised that my
— my health should be one of the most important
things before I considered employment on fields that might
[affect] my health.

* * * *

THE REFEREE: And there was no other place that they can
put you . . . anywhere else?

* * * *

BOGARDUS: well — well, it could’ve been a
possibility. It could’ve been a possibility. . . . But I’m
sure it could’ve been possible to place me somewhere that
would be not a hazardous condition.

REFEREE: Did you ask?

BOGARDUS: I don’t recall asking officially. . . .

As his supervisor testified, she thought highly of Bogardus
and would have found some appropriate work for him to do
had he asked rather than quit:

WALKER: You know, I — this has nothing to do
— I want to make sure [Bogardus] understands, this
is not any kind of situation where he should feel that you
know it’s punitive or anything like that, that he was a
good employee, but he absolutely made it clear to me that
he could no — know, no longer work for us at that
time. And he approached me. I would’ve definitely found
things for him to do, even if it was some — a
little bit out of the parameters from what he was doing.
We would’ve sat down, discussed new responsibilities,
anything that he could’ve helped with, you know, in the
office. But actually renovating the building would
definitely not have been his responsibility. That’s not my
responsibility either. That’s the building owner’s
responsibility. So he would have been given work, yes.

Based on this evidence, the hearing officer found that
Bogardus “voluntarily quit on November 14, 2005, when
claimant informed the director that he was leaving the job
due to his health and due to the long drive.” The hearing
officer also correctly concluded that under such
circumstances “the burden [was] on the claimant to show . .
. that he had good cause to quit.” As explained in Ritenour
v. Unemployment Appeals Comm’n, 570 So. 2d 1106, 1107 (Fla.
5th DCA 1990) (citations omitted):

An appeals referee is the trier of fact, and he or she is
privileged to weigh and reject conflicting evidence. . . .
The question of whether a claimant left work voluntarily
is a question of fact. . . . But the question is whether
she voluntarily left for good cause. “Good cause” for
voluntarily quitting are those circumstances which would
impel the average, able bodied, qualified worker to give
up his employment.

Here, the hearing officer concluded that Bogardus failed
to meet the burden of demonstrating good cause because he
“never presented any doctor notes to inform the employer
that he could no longer work due to his health conditions,”
and because he “was aware of the drive from his house to
the job site.”

Because the referee’s conclusion that Bogardus voluntarily
quit his job without good cause attributable to his
employer was supported by competent substantial evidence,
we affirm. See § 443.101(1)(a), Fla. Stat. (2005)
(disqualifying an individual from receipt of benefits for
that period “in which he or she has voluntarily left his or
her work without good cause attributable to his or her
employing unit”); Fink v. Florida Unemployment Appeals
Comm’n, 665 So. 2d 373, 374 (Fla. 4th DCA 1996) (“an
administrative agency’s action should be sustained on appeal
if based upon any acceptable view of the evidence”); David
Clark & Assocs., Inc. v. Kennedy, 390 So. 2d 149, 151 (Fla.
1st DCA 1980) (as trier of fact, the hearing officer is
privileged to weigh and reject conflicting evidence).



[fn1] As defined in section 216.011(dd), Florida Statutes
(2006), provides in part:

“Other personal services” means the appropriation
category used to fund the compensation for services
rendered by a person who is not filling an established
position. This definition includes, but is not limited to,
services of temporary employees, student or graduate
assistants, persons on fellowships, part-time academic
employees, board members, and consultants and other
services specifically budgeted by each agency, or by the
judicial branch, in this category.