Warren v Caro Community Hospital – 10.80

Warren v Caro Community Hospital
Digest no. 10.80

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Warren v Caro Community Hosp, 457 Mich 361 (1998).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Cindy Warren
Employer: Caro Community Hospital
Docket no.: B91-00630-118357
Date of decision: May 19, 1998

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SUPREME COURT HOLDING: When a claimant is willing to continue working but is advised by a doctor not to work because of a temporary or short-term, self-limited medical condition properly documented by the treating physician, the claimant did not voluntarily leave work by following the doctor’s advice. If an employer refuses to allow the employee to return as soon as medically possible, the employee is entitled to unemployment compensation.

FACTS: As she neared the end of her pregnancy, claimant submitted a request for a medical leave. The request was denied as under the collective bargaining agreement it was the employer’s policy to refuse leaves to employees who had not been employed a year. Shortly thereafter, the claimant gave birth and consequently failed to report to work. When released by her physician, she sought to return to work at the hospital. but was refused. She did not seek unemployment benefits for the period that she was medically unable to work. Rather, she only sought to return to work following her pregnancy.

DECISION: Claimant is not disqualified for voluntary leaving.

RATIONALE: “[W]e continue to hold that whether a person is entitled to unemployment benefits is a two-part inquiry. Under the first prong, we must determine whether plaintiff voluntarily left her position. If we find that she left her position involuntarily, the inquiry ends and she is entitled to unemployment compensation. … However, if the court finds that plaintiff left her position voluntarily, we must advance to prong two to determine whether her leaving was `without good cause attributable to the employer.'” The claimant was advised by her doctor not to work beyond a certain date. Fault should not be ascribed to the claimant simply because a medical condition rendered her temporarily unable to work. Because she received medical advice not to work, she did not voluntarily leave, and thus is entitled to unemployment benefits for the period she was medically able to work, but her employer refused to allow her to return. Note the Court distinguished this case factually from Watson v Murdock’s Food, 148 Mich App 802 (1986) on the basis Ms. Watson had no intention of returning to work and was seeking benefits for the period when medically unable to work.

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