Gebhardt v Lapeer Community Schools – 10.88

Gebhardt v Lapeer Community Schools
Digest no. 10.88

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Gebhardt v Lapeer Community Schools, unpublished per curiam opinion of the Court of Appeals, issued September 17, 1992 (Docket No. 132176).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Barbara J. Gebhardt
Employer: Lapeer Community Schools
Docket no.: B87-12530-110516W
Date of decision: September 17, 1992

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: 1) An employer’s decision to discipline based on a legitimate policy or procedure does not constitute good cause for leaving. 2) A school system’s request that a school board dismiss a tenured teacher does not constitute constructive discharge.

FACTS: The claimant was a tenured school teacher. She was charged with first degree criminal sexual conduct. This prompted the employer to suspend the claimant with pay. When the claimant was convicted the employer requested that the Board of Education dismiss the claimant. Pursuant to the employer’s request, a hearing was noticed. The hearing resulted in a negotiated settlement whereby the claimant would resign her position, the employer would withdraw the tenure charges and the claimant would receive a cash settlement. The claimant asserted her leaving was a constructive discharge. (Note: after her separation, but prior to the Referee hearing, claimant’s conviction was set aside.)

DECISION: The claimant was disqualified under Section 29(1)(a).

RATIONALE: Referral to the school board was a procedure designed to protect the claimant, not injure her. Consequently, the hearing could not be characterized as a working condition that would force a reasonable person to resign. Accordingly, there was no constructive discharge. The court also rejected the argument that claimant would have lost her job with or without a hearing as the employer was determined to terminate her employment, therefore she was not required to pursue a futile course of action. The court observed that while the employer was zealous, its actions were not merely vexatious. Since the Teacher Tenure Act provides possible appellate relief, that option was not futile. Moreover, when an employer reprimands or relieves an employee of his or her duties based on a legitimate policy or procedure, it does not give an employee good reason to resign.

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated:
7/99