Toston v. Indus. Comm'n

In Toston v. Indus. Comm'n, 160 Colo. 281, 417 P.2d 1 (Colo. 1966), the Colorado Supreme Court discussed the statutory factors to be considered in determining whether "suitable" work had been offered. 417 P.2d at 2. Those factors were, in substance, the same as those listed in section 8-1005(b). Id. The claimant in Toston had been discharged from a full-time job. About two weeks after her termination, she was offered a temporary, thirty-day job by H & R Block. The claimant turned down the job offer on the ground that if she accepted it she would lose the opportunity to obtain permanent employment. One of the questions presented to the Colorado Supreme Court in Toston was "whether her refusal to accept the temporary job under the circumstances of this case constituted as a matter of law, a refusal of suitable work or refusal of referral to suitable work within the meaning" of the Colorado statute. Id. The Toston Court held: As applied to the instant case, the temporary job as comptometer operator at H & R Block Co. was not refused by claimant on the grounds that it constituted a measurable degree of risk to her health, safety and morals; nor was the job refused on the ground that it was incompatible with her physical fitness, prior training and experience or prior earnings. Not only did the job require her skills as a comptometer operator, but it also paid 23 cents more per hour than her former wage of $ 1.60 per hour at Beatrice. The job, however, was temporary, and, since claimant had been unemployed hardly more than two weeks, she assumed that the prospects of securing permanent work as a comptometer operator were good. Essentially, the claimant refused as unsuitable a thirty-day job for the reason that it would have eliminated her, for that period of time, from the market of suitable permanent jobs which might have been made available to her by the State Employment Office or through her own efforts. Under these circumstances, claimant's refusal to accept a temporary job, in our view, did not, in and of itself, constitute a refusal to accept suitable work since she was entitled to a reasonable time in which to compete in the labor market for available jobs and at a rate of pay commensurate with her prior earnings. Bayly Mfg. Co. v. Department of Employment, 155 Colo. 433, 395 P.2d 216. In Bayly, supra, the work which was refused was for a wage materially lower than the wage previously earned. Nevertheless, the rationale of that decision applies with equal force to the instant case wherein the claimant is seeking permanent employment but has been offered a temporary position. Although claimant must be afforded a reasonable time within which to seek out jobs which are satisfactory to her, the status of jobs which are initially unsuitable does not remain constant. In other words, work which was unsuitable at the beginning of the employment may become suitable when consideration is given to the length of unemployment and the prospects of securing claimant's accustomed work. Hallahan v. Riley, 94 N.H. 48, 45 A.2d 886 (1946). (Id. at 2-3.)