Wynne (Michigan Department of Social Services) – 10.53

Wynne (Michigan Department of Social Services)
Digest no. 10.53

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Wynne (Michigan Dep’t of Social Services), 1988 BR 103153W (B86-07148).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Ruth M. Wynne
Employer: Michigan Department of Social Services
Docket no.: B86 07148 103153W
Date of decision:

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BOARD OF REVIEW HOLDING: A leaving due to established illness which is at the direction of a physician is involuntary and does not subject the claimant to disqualification under Section 29(1)(a).

FACTS: The claimant found her work stressful and suffered from hypertension, tension headaches and colitis. She unsuccessfully sought a transfer. She left her employment on the advice of her doctor.

DECISION: The claimant’s leaving was involuntary and therefore not disqualifying under Section 29(1)(a). Decided by entire Board.

RATIONALE: The majority analyzed the construction of Section 29(1)(a) as well as former decisions dealing with involuntary leaving, i.e. Lyons vESC, 303 Mich 201 (1961), Larson v ESC, 2 Mich App 540 (1966), and Laya v Cebar Construction, 101 Mich App 26 (1980). It concluded the Referee’s application of Watson v Murdock’s Food and Wet Goods, 148 Mich App 802 (1989) was erroneous as the claimant’s leaving, due to illness and at the direction of her physician, was involuntary.

A minority of the Board noted Watson was distinct precedent on Section 29(1)(a) and concluded in order for a separation, voluntary or involuntary, to be non-disqualifying, the separation must be with good cause attributable to the employer. But, a claimant who leaves work for health reasons may avoid disqualification if it is established (1) the medical problem arose out of the work environment, (2) the claimant approached the employer to alleviate the condition causing the problem, or to find a way of retaining employment despite the problem, (3) the employer created the condition or, having knowledge of the condition, was unable or unwilling to alleviate it or to provide alternative employment and, (4) the claimant was still able to perform work within the medical restriction if the conditions in the work environment causing or aggravating the medical problem were abated.

These Members concluded the claimant’s separation was with good cause attributable to the employer and not disqualifying.

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated:
6/91