Johnides v St Lawrence Hospital – 10.27

Johnides v St Lawrence Hospital
Digest no. 10.27

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Johnides v St Lawrence Hosp, 184 Mich App 172 (1990).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Tim A. Johnides
Employer: St. Lawrence Hospital
Docket no.: B87 04342 106605W
Date of decision: June 5, 1990

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: A claimant may establish good cause for voluntary leaving despite having failed to pursue a grievance procedure available to him prior to quitting.

FACTS: Claimant asked for a transfer from his night shift position in employer’s psychiatric unit A. He was placed on administrative leave for two weeks while employer attempted to find another position for him. When claimant returned to work, employer only agreed to pay him for four of the days he was off. Claimant quit and filed in small claims court. He was awarded compensation for the full period of his administrative leave.

DECISION: Claimant was not disqualified for voluntary leaving.

RATIONALE: “In deciding whether the failure to pursue an available grievance procedure will operate to disqualify an employee from receiving unemployment benefits, many factors should be considered. First, the nature of the grievance procedure should be analyzed. For instance, where there exists a formal employer-employee negotiated grievance procedure, such as that under a collective bargaining agreement, the reasons for requiring an employee to abide by the terms of the agreement, and therefore first resort to the grievance procedure, are much more compelling than in the case where there exists merely an informal employer-imposed procedure. Further, the nature of the dispute should be analyzed in light of the procedure available. That is, it should be determined whether the procedure is one likely to resolve the dispute or whether the dispute at issue is of the type contemplated by the grievance procedure. If not, then a failure to resort to the procedure should not affect a claimant’s eligibility for unemployment compensation. Finally, other variables, such as whether resort to the grievance procedure would be a mere futility, should also be examined. Each of these considerations should be analyzed in light of all the other relevant facts of the case in determining whether a reasonable, average, and otherwise qualified worker would feel compelled to give up his of her employment without first resorting to an available grievance procedure.”

Additionally, the court observed: “Nowhere does the act require, nor does it suggest, that a claimant must first file a complaint in either a judicial forum or with the Department of Labor in order to preserve his eligibility for unemployment compensation.”

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