Human Capability Corp v Carson – 10.96

Human Capability Corp v Carson
Digest no. 10.96

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Human Capability Corp v Carson, unpublished opinion of the Wayne Circuit Court, issued April 6, 2004, (Docket No. 03-331656-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Barbara D. Carson
Employer: Human Capability Corporation
Docket no.: B2003-02940-169363
Date of decision: April 6, 2004

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: Where the employer unilaterally changed the terms and conditions of employment by altering the employee handbook to include non-competition and prohibition of outside employment provisions, the claimant had good cause for voluntary leaving.

FACTS: In January 2002, employer updated the policies contained in its 1998 employee handbook. The 2002 employee handbook contained a non-competition provision and prohibited outside employment. The claimant refused to sign and was separated from employment. The 1998 employee handbook prohibited outside work on employer’s time, and lacked an express provision barring work with a competitor after separating from employer’s employ.

DECISION: Claimant is not disqualified for voluntary leaving.

RATIONALE: The employer did not dispute that claimant left work voluntarily. The employer asserted claimant lacked good cause for leaving because claimant was an at-will employee, who lacked an employment contract or a legitimate expectation that employer would not alter the terms and conditions or employment. The court held that employer’s argument was misplaced – that claimant’s employment status and employer’s right to alter the terms and conditions of work would be pertinent if the enforceability of a common-law employment contract were at issue. Toussaint v Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Michigan, 408 Mich 579 (1980). The court found that Toussaint and its progeny do not govern administrative proceedings when the issue is whether the claimant left with good cause attributable to employer under Section 29(1)(a) of the Act.

The addition of the moonlighting prohibition and anti-compete clause were a substantial and material change in the terms of employment.

Digest Author:  Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated: 11/04