Key State Bank v Adams – 12.09

Key State Bank v Adams
Digest no. 12.09

Section 29(1)(b)

Cite as: Key State Bank v Adams, 138 Mich App 607 (1984); lv den 422 Mich 871 (1985).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Georganne Adams
Employer: Key State Bank
Docket No: B82 08965 RO1 85084W
Date of decision: November 5, 1984

View/download the full decision

COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: ” … the Free Exercise Clause of the

First Amendment, US Const, Am I, prevents the state from withholding benefits when the reason for termination of employment is based upon conversion to a religious faith.”

FACTS: The claimant was employed in a position requiring Saturday work. “Subsequent to commencing her employment, and, after working on Saturdays for a period of several months, [claimant] underwent conversion to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and refused to work on Saturdays any longer.” The employer discharged claimant after attempting in good faith, but without success, to accommodate her religious beliefs.

DECISION: The claimant is not disqualified for misconduct discharge.

RATIONALE: The Court cited Sherbert v Vernier, 374 US 398; 10 L Ed 2nd 963; 83 S Ct 1790 (1963) and Thomas v Review Board of the Indiana Employment Security Div, et al, 4509 US 707; 67 L Ed 2d 624; 10 S Ct 1425 (1981) as controlling precedents on the issue herein.

In both Sherbert and Thomas “the termination flowed from the fact that the employment once acceptable, became religiously objectionable because of changed conditions … the focus of the Court in Thomas, supra, and Sherbert was not on the conduct of the employers, but on the State’s conditioning receipt of an important benefit upon conduct prescribed by a religious faith or [denial of] such benefit because of conduct mandated by religious belief.”

“The only factual difference between this case and the Supreme Court precedents is that the claimant herein adopted her religious beliefs after gaining employment. We do not accept the view that the First Amendment protects the right to adhere to religious beliefs, but not the right to adopt such beliefs in the first instance or convert from one faith to another.”

“The State may not constitutionally apply the eligibility provision to deny” claimant benefits.

Digest Author:  Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated: 11/90