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“Unaffordable childcare, based upon the amount of money earned, is sufficient to establish good cause,” concluded Rhode Island District Court Chief Judge Albert E. DeRobbio. A secretary who left her job because she couldn’t find affordable childcare was entitled to employment security benefits after turning down an offer to return to her old job, ruled Judge Albert E. DeRobbio. In his ruling last month, DeRobbio upheld a decision of the state’s Department of Labor and Training Board of Review that Cheri M. Campbell “established good cause” to refuse the offer. “Unaffordable childcare, based upon the amount of money earned, is sufficient to establish good cause (under �28-44-20 of the Rhode Island Employment Security Act),” the judge concluded. Cambell had worked as a secretary for five months in 1996 when she informed her employer, Dr. Geraldine Mills, that she needed time off from work because she could not find affordable childcare for her children during the summer. Once her children returned to school, Campbell had indicated she would be able to go back to working in the doctor’s office. After Mills agreed to let Campbell take the time off, beginning July 23, 1996, the secretary worked just one day after that on Aug. 14, 1996. Several weeks later, the doctor contacted Campbell to see if she was ready to return to work. Campbell at that time indicated she had not been able to find affordable childcare. Eleven days later, Mills asked Campbell if she could go back to her job, but again, Campbell found herself in the same position regarding childcare. Mills told her that under that circumstance, she would have to hire someone to replace her. Earning $6.50 an hour as a secretary, Campbell was grossing between $130 and $156 a week, while her childcare costs were between $75 and $100 a week. Campbell filed a claim for employment security benefits on Sept. 3, 1996. On June 11, 1998, the director of the state’s Central Office of the Overpayment Unit, determined that Campbell had refused an offer of suitable work without good cause and that she was overpaid $4,880 because she was paid during a period of disqualification for the employment benefits. On Jan. 31, 2001, Campbell filed an appeal with the Board of Review. A hearing officer reversed the director’s decision, determining that Campbell had properly refused her old job with good cause. As such, the hearing officer ruled that the secretary had not been overpaid the $4,880. Mills appealed that decision to the full Board of Review in March 2001. After the full board upheld the hearing officer’s finding, Mills filed an appeal with the District Court. DeRobbio agreed with the full Board of Review that Campbell’s inability to find affordable childcare, based on her earnings at the doctor’s office, was a sufficient reason to turn down the offer and as such, she was entitled to the employment security benefits.

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