Martin v. E.C. Brooks Correctional Facility – 10.122

Martin v. E.C. Brooks Correctional Facility

Digest no. 10.122

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Martin v EC Brooks Correctional Facility, Unpublished Opinion of the Court of Appeals of Michigan, Issued December 24, 2014 (Docket No. 316393).

 

Appeal Pending: No

Claimant: Cathy A. Martin

Employer: E.C. Brooks Correctional Facility

Docket no. 316393

Date of decision: Dec. 24, 2014

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Holding: Claimant is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because she failed to establish good cause for leaving her employment when she left in response to rumors of a layoff.

Facts: Claimant worked full-time at the E.C. Brooks Correctional Facility. Claimant left her employment because of uncertainty regarding her job status. Although claimant’s superiors informed her that she was going to be laid off, they subsequently told her that she was going to be transferred. The circuit court found that claimant was “uncertain” of whether she was going to be laid off.

Decision: The UIA determined that claimant was disqualified from receiving benefits. The ALJ disagreed, finding that claimant did qualify for benefits, because leaving in order to avoid a layoff amounted to leaving for good cause attributable to the employer. The MCAC reversed, finding that Claimant did not leave her employer in anticipation of a layoff, but rather, she left in anticipation of a “bump,” which was essentially a transfer. The circuit court affirmed the MCAC, following the same reasoning. The Court of Appeals of Michigan affirmed.

Rationale: The Court of Appeals of Michigan reasoned that Claimant did not satisfy her burden of showing that he leaving was justified because she left because of rumors and uncertainty.

Digest author: James C. Robinson

Digest updated: 3/15

Braska v. Challenge Mfg. Co. – 14.20

Braska v. Challenge Mfg. Co.
Kemp v. Hayes Green Memorial Hospital
Kudzia v. Avasi Services

Digest no. 14.20

Section 29(1)(m)

Cite as: Braska v Challenge Mfg Co, Unpublished Opinion of the Court of Appeals of Michigan, Issued October 23, 2014
(Docket Nos. 313932, 315441, 318344).

Appeal Pending: No. On November 4, 2015, Michigan Supreme Court denied the Agency’s Application for Leave to Appeal.
Claimants: Rick Braska, Jenine Kemp, Stephen Kudzia (3 separate claimants consolidated on appeal)
Employer: Challenge Manufacturing Company, Hayes Green Memorial Hospital, Avasi Services
Docket nos. 313932, 315441, 318344
Date of decision: October 23, 2014

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Holding: Claimants tested positive for marijuana and would ordinarily be disqualified for unemployment benefits under section 29(1)(m); however, because there was no evidence to suggest that the positive drug tests were caused by anything other than claimants’ use of medical marijuana in accordance with the terms of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA), the denial of the benefits constituted an improper penalty for the medical use of marijuana under MCL 333.26424(a).

Facts: The claimants each possessed medical marijuana cards. Each of them failed an employee drug test and was subsequently discharged even though there was no evidence of impairment at work.

Braska applied for and received benefits following his termination. The ALJ upheld the UIA’s determination. The MCAC reversed. The circuit court reversed hold that the MCAC’s decision that Braska was disqualified from receiving benefits was not supported by competent, material, and substantial evidence.

After termination, Kemp applied and received benefits. The ALJ affirmed. The MCAC reversed. The circuit court reversed the MCAC’s decision, holding “an employee, who uses medical marijuana but is not intoxicated at work, is not disqualified from receiving benefits under § 29(1)(m).”

Kudzia applied for and received benefits after termination. The ALJ held that Kudzia was disqualified from receiving benefits under § 29(1)(b). Kudzia appealed, and the MCAC affirmed the ALJ’s decision on different grounds. The circuit court reverserd, holding “to the extent that provisions of the MMMA and the MESA conflicted, the MMMA controlled” and that “although the MMMA does not impose restrictions on private employers, the MMMA applied to state action and the MCAC’s decision to deny Kudzia benefits was an action by the state.”

Decision: Following various procedural outcomes, The MCAC found claimants disqualified for benefits under § 29(1)(m). The respective circuit courts reversed. The Court of Appeals of Michigan consolidated the cases, and affirmed the decisions of the circuit courts.

Rationale: Claimants were nevertheless entitled to unemployment benefits pursuant to the MMMA. MCL 333.26424(a) provides broad immunity. It prohibits the imposition of certain consequences, including any penalty, upon individuals who use medical marijuana in accordance with the MMMA. Denial of unemployment benefits under § 29(1)(m) constitutes a “penalty” under the MMMA that was imposed upon claimants for their medical use of marijuana. Because the MMMA preempts the MESA, the MCAC erred in denying claimants unemployment benefits.

Digest author: James C. Robinson
Digest updated: 12/15

McPhee v. Robert Gittleman Law Firm, PC – 16.87

McPhee v. Robert Gittleman Law Firm, PC

Digest no. 16.87

Sections 38(1)34(2) and 29(1)(a)

Cite as: McPhee v Robert Gittleman Law Firm, PC, Unpublished Opinion of the Court of Appeals of Michigan, Issued September 14, 2014 (Docket No. 314452).

Appeal Pending: No
Claimant: John S. McPhee (Appellant)
Employer: Robert Gittleman Law Firm, PC (Appellee, along with Department of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs Growth/Unemployment Insurance Agency)
Tribunal: Court of Appeals of Michigan
Date of decision: Sept. 14, 2014

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Holding: Because the circuit court failed to apply the proper standard of review to the MCAC’s findings, the Court of Appeals found that claimant was entitled to unemployment compensation.

Facts: In 2008, claimant worked in Robert Gittleman’s law firm. In 2010, claimant announced his candidacy for district judge. Claimant informed Gittleman of his intentions and, indicated that he would be leaving the firm if he won the election. Claimant eventually lost the election, but, in the interim, Gittleman had placed an advertisement and hired a new associate, ultimately leaving claimant without employment. The underlying dispute arising from these facts is whether claimant voluntarily left his employment at the law firm or whether he was fired.

On November 2010, the agency approved benefits. The employer protested, and the ALJ determined that claimant was ineligible for unemployment benefits because he had left without good cause attributable to his employer. The MCAC reversed the ALJ, explaining that, “If the Claimant had told the Employer he would be leaving regardless of the outcome of the election…we would agree [that claimant had resigned]. However, the Claimant merely informed the Employer of his candidacy and advised that it make contingency plans in the event he won.”

The circuit court reversed because it determined that the MCAC “improperly substituted its judgment for that of [the] ALJ and in doing so committed an abuse of discretion.” On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed.

Decision: The Agency issued a determination that claimant was eligible for unemployment. The ALJ reversed. The MCAC reversed. The circuit court reversed. The Court of Appeals reversed the circuit court.

Rationale: The statutory language [MCL 421.34(2) plainly permits the MCAC, “on the basis of evidence previously submitted,” to reverse the ALJ in regard to both the ALJ’s ultimate decision and its “findings of fact.” In contrast, MCL 421.38(1) requires that the [circuit] court may reverse an order or decision only if it finds that the order or decision is contrary to law or is not supported by competent, material, and substantial evidence on the whole record.  By focusing instead on whether the MCAC abused its discretion by departing from the ALJ’s factual findings, the circuit court applied an improper standard of review

Digest author: James C. Robinson
Digest updated: 3/15

Ross v. Acrisure P1, LLC – 7.39

Ross v. Acrisure P1, LLC

Digest no. 7.39

Section 28(1)(c)

Cite as: Ross v. Acrisure P1, LLC, Unpublished Opinion of the Court of Appeals of Michigan, Issued August 14, 2014 (Docket no. 315347).

Appeal Pending: No
Claimant: Michael T. Ross (Appellee)
Employer: Hill’s Crate Mill (Appellants: UIA)
Docket no. 315347
Date of decision: Aug. 14, 2014

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Holding: Claimant’s receipt of social security benefits did not preclude him from asserting that he was willing and able to work for purposes of receiving unemployment benefits.

Facts: Claimant’s employer closed in 2009. In December 2009, claimant applied to the Agency for unemployment benefits, and he began to receive those benefits. Although initially claimant’s application for SSDI benefits was denied, claimant successfully appealed that decision on September 21, 2011. On November 29, 2011, claimant informed the Agency that the SSA determined that he was disabled. As a result, on December 20, 2011, the Agency issued a determination informing claimant that he was not eligible for unemployment given his receipt of SSDI benefits.  In February 2012, an administrative law judge upheld the Agency’s denial of benefits and demand for repayment as well as the imposition of penalties. The MCAC affirmed. The circuit court overruled, stating it was “unable to find merit in the [MCAC’s] finding that the claimant’s application for social security disability was inconsistent with his testimony that he was ready and able to work in connection with his application for unemployment benefits.”

Decision: The Agency issued a determination informing claimant that he was not eligible for unemployment given his receipt of SSDI benefits. The MCAC affirmed. The circuit court reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court.

Rationale: There are two broad considerations relevant to determining whether judicial estoppel should prevent an individual from bringing claims under two statutory schemes when there is a potential that the claims involved may be inconsistent. First, courts consider whether there is an inherent conflict between the statutory schemes, such that a negative presumption should apply against the possibility of an individual pursuing both types of claims. See Cleveland v Policy Management Systems Corp, 526 U.S. 795, 802-803 (1999) (finding no inherent conflict between receipt of SSDI benefits and a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and rejecting application of a negative presumption). Second, courts consider whether a claimant’s purely factual assertions in the respective contexts genuinely conflict with one another, and whether an individual can explain any apparent contradiction.

There is not an inherent conflict between the statutory schemes such that a finding of disability for purposes of SSDI necessarily precludes the possibility of also receiving unemployment.  Nothing in claimant’s specific factual assertions in each arena which can be considered wholly inconsistent.

Digest author: James C. Robinson (Michigan Law ’16)
Digest updated: 3/15

War Memorial Hosp. v. Nodurft

War Memorial Hospital. v. Nodurft
Digest no.

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: War Mem’l Hosp v Nodurft, Unpublished Opinion of the Michigan Court of Appeals, issued June 3, 2014 (Docket No. 312205)

Appeal Pending: No
Court: Court of Appeals of Michigan
Date of decision: June 3, 2014

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Holding: A nurses aide, discharged for refusing to help restrain an out of control patient and thus putting her co-workers and the patient in danger, commits disqualifying misconduct under MCL 421.29(1)(b).

Facts: Employer Behavioral Health Center terminated claimant Nodurft when claimant refused to assist, at the direction of nurse manager Greg Wolf, other staff members in the restraint of an agitated and violent patient. Defendant filed a claim for unemployment benefits, which the Unemployment Insurance Agency denied under the misconduct provisions of the Michigan Employment Security Act (MESA) MCL 421.29. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) upheld the Agency’s decision, which the MCAC affirmed. Defendant then filed a claim of appeal with the circuit court, which reversed the MCAC’s decision upholding the denial of unemployment benefits.

Decision: The Court of Appeals reversed the circuit court’s order overturning the decision of the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission, which upheld the denial of unemployment benefits to defendant Nodurft on the basis that she was “discharged for misconduct connected with her work,” under MCL 421.29(1)(b).

Rationale: The circuit court reversed the decision on the basis of its view that the evidence did not support plaintiff’s decision to terminate defendant’s employment on the basis of insubordination. Whether a termination is proper, however, is irrelevant when considering whether work-related misconduct occurred under MCL 421.29(1)(b). Nowhere in the Supreme Court’s definition of “misconduct” [in Carter v. Michigan Employment Security Comm.]  is the propriety of the employer’s authority to terminate an employee taken into consideration. Rather, the focus of the misconduct analysis must be on the claimant’s misconduct, not whether the employer wrongfully discharged the claimant. The CoA also found that the Circuit Court did not follow the correct standard of review.

When the definition of “misconduct” articulated by Carter is applied, it is clear that competent, material, and substantial evidence on the whole record supports the conclusion that disqualifying misconduct occurred.

Digest author: James C. Robinson
Digest updated: 2/15

Logan v. Manpower of Lansing, Inc.

Logan v. Manpower of Lansing, Inc.

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Logan v Manpower of Lansing, Inc, unpublished opinion of the Court of Appeals of Michigan, Issued March 13, 2014 (Docket No. 311167).

Appeal Pending: No
Claimant: Janice Logan
Employer: Manpower of Lansing, Inc.
Docket no.: 311167
Date of decision: March 13, 2014

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Holding: The Court of Appeals held that claimant voluntarily left work without good cause attributable to the employer when she quit her employment at a temporary staffing agency to take part-time employment after being on medical leave.

Facts: Claimant began working for a temporary staffing agency, Manpower of Lansing, Inc. (“Manpower”) in April 2008. She was assigned to work part-time at Pennfield Animal Hospital (“Pennfield”). Claimant went on medical leave in August 2008. When claimant was ready to return to work in October 2008, she began working for Pennfield as a direct hire. The ALJ ruled that claimant was disqualified for benefits under MCL 421.29(1)(a) because “she abandoned her job with Manpower and took a part-time job with the client company.”

On appeal claimant asserted that she left Manpower to accept full-time work, which would implicate the exception in MCL 421.29(5) to the rule in MCL 421.29(1), which disqualifies a person from receiving benefits for voluntarily leaving work. On remand, the ALJ found that claimant quit her job with Manpower in order to accept permanent, part-time employment with Pennfield. The Calhoun Circuit Court affirmed.

Decision: The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision on the Circuit Court.

Rationale: The Court of Appeals found that “the statute [MCL 421.29(1)(a)] does not refer to work that is unconnected to the employer; instead, the work is linked to a particular employer unit or employing unit, and when the relationship with that particular employer or employing unit ends, the work at issues necessarily also ends.”

Additionally, the court declined “claimant’s invitation to view a temporary-staffing firm and its client as a ‘joint employer’ or a single ‘employing unit,’” because claimant could not show “how Manpower was an agent (or employee) of Pennfield or vice versa.”

Digest author: James C. Robinson
Digest updated: 2/15