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Amador v. Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board

Supreme Court of California
677 P.2d 224 (Cal. 1984)


Facts

In 1976, Nelly Amador (plaintiff) was hired as a histotechnician for the San Mateo County Community Hospital (Chope). As a histotechnician, Amador prepared tissue samples for analysis by doctors. The doctors began requesting that Amador perform a procedure called grosscutting. Grosscutting involved selecting and removing tissue samples from organs that had been removed from live patients by doctors. Amador refused to perform grosscutting because she believed that histotechnicians were not qualified to perform the procedure. Amador believed that a trained doctor should perform grosscutting because the improper selection of a tissue sample could threaten the life of a patient. Amador’s position was supported by the opinions of three outside pathologists. Chope warned Amador that she would be disciplined if she refused to perform grosscutting. Amador continued to refuse and was suspended from work for two days. The county civil-service commission upheld Amador’s suspension, finding that Chope’s orders were reasonable and that Amador had committed insubordination by refusing to perform grosscutting. Chope subsequently terminated Amador’s employment for incompetence and insubordination. Amador applied for unemployment benefits. A claims interviewer denied Amador’s request on the ground that Amador had been terminated for misconduct. On appeal, an administrative law judge found that Amador had deliberately violated a reasonable order and therefore had been terminated for misconduct. Amador appealed to the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (defendant), which affirmed the denial of benefits. The superior court denied Amador’s petition for a writ of mandate. Amador appealed.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Bird, C.J.)

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Dissent (Mosk, J.)

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