Mark Hopkins Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Mark Hopkins doctrine refers to a principle that when an employee leaves job because of a labor dispute, in order to avoid disqualification from unemployment benefits when the employee leaves any subsequently obtained job, the subsequent job should be a bona fide one with the intent that it be permanent.

This standard was set by the court in Mark Hopkins, Inc. v. California Employment Com., 24 Cal. 2d 744 (Cal. 1944). In this case, fifty-five hotels entered into collective bargaining agreements with the union. These agreements were extended pending negotiations for a new contract. When no new agreement was reached, the union established picket lines at four of the hotels and took strike against other hotels. During this period, the union provided striking employees with other work in hotels unaffected by the strike. The claimants obtained such employment, but became unemployed again before termination of the strike. They then applied for unemployment insurance benefits from their employers which were allowed by the commission. The employers filed a writ of mandamus to compel the commission to vacate its award of benefits. The court granted the writ, holding the claimants were ineligible for unemployment benefits, according to the California Unemployment Insurance Act § 56(a), because they left their employment due to a trade dispute, and the work they secured during the strike was merely a stop-gap employment, in that they had not forfeited their employment in the employers' struck establishments. Only permanent full-time employment can terminate the disqualification. If bona fide, it completely replaces the claimant's former employment, terminating whatever relation existed between the claimant and his/her former employer. It must be judged prospectively rather than retrospectively, with regard to the character of the employment, how it was obtained, and whether it was in the regular course of the employer's business and the customary occupation of the claimant. In the absence of special circumstances, employment of a short duration admits of an inference that it was not entered into in good faith with the intent that it be permanent.