Charter School Administration Services v Thomas – 5.23

Charter School Administration Services v Thomas
Digest no. 5.23

Sections 27(i)(2), 53

Cite as: Charter School Admin Services v Thomas, unpublished opinion of the Oakland County Circuit Court, issued March 30, 2009 (Docket No. 08-118314-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Audrenia Thomas
Employer: Charter School Administration Services
Docket no.: 08-118314-AE
Date of decision: March 30, 2009

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HOLDING: Unless stated otherwise in Section 27(i)(9) or 27(n), the school denial provision under Section 27(i)(2) does not deny benefits to a claimant who performs services for educational institutions but is not directly employed by an educational institution.

FACTS: Employer provided administrative service to schools. Claimant worked for the Employer as a latchkey coordinator, providing non-instructional, supervision services for charter schools. At the end of the school year, Employer sent Claimant a letter of reasonable assurance to return the following school year. Claimant applied for unemployment benefits during the layoff period and returned to work the following school year.

UIA issued a redetermination that Claimant was eligible for benefits. ALJ reversed the UIA’s redetermination on the grounds that, although the Employer was not an “educational institution,” the Claimant was nevertheless subject to the school denial period under Section 27(i)(2) because she provided services for an “education institution” as part of her job. Board of Review reversed the ALJ’s decision because there was “no support that the Legislature intended all employers which provide services for an educational institution to be subject the school denial period.”  Employer appealed to the Circuit Court.

DECISION: The Circuit Court affirmed the decision of the Board of Review, finding Claimant not subject to the school denial period and eligible for benefits.

RATIONALE: Under the Employer’s interpretation of Section 27(i)(2), the application of the school denial period does not depend on whether a claimant is employed by an educational institution, but on whether the claimant’s job entails performing services for an educational institution.

This interpretation is inconsistent with the other sections of the MES Act. See, e.g., Section 42(1) (“Employment means service performed for remuneration or under any contract of hire, written or oral, express or implied”),  Section 42(5) (“[s]ervices performed by an individual for remuneration shall not be deemed to be employment subject to this act, unless the individual is under the employers control or direction as to the performance of the services both under a contract for hire and in fact”).

Furthermore, the Michigan Legislature expressly provides in Section 27(i)(9) and 27(n) that a certain class of individuals is subject to the school denial period despite not being employed by educational institutions. If Employer’s interpretation is true, Section 27(i)(9) and 27(n) would be rendered superfluous.

Here, there is no dispute that the Employer employed the Claimant as defined by Section 42(5).  Furthermore, there is no dispute that Employer is not an educational institution with the meaning of Section 53. While Claimant did perform services for an education institution, Claimant provided the services in order to fulfill the Employer’s contractual duties to the educational institution. Therefore, Claimant is not subject to the school denial period.

Digest Author:  Chris Kang
Digest Student-Editor: Nick Phillips
Digest Updated: 8/14

Petrelius v. Houghton-Portage Township Schools – 5.24

Petrelius v. Houghton-Portage Township Schools, UIA
Digest No. 5.24

Section 421.27(i)(2)

 

Cite as: Petrelius v Houghton-Portage Township Schools, 761 N.W.2d 395 (2008).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: William M. Petrelius
Employer: Houghton-Portage Township Schools
Date of decision: November 20, 2008

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HOLDING: The district court and board of review erred in finding that claimant is eligible for unemployment benefits. The plain language of MCL 421.27(i)(2) precludes the award of unemployment benefits for any week of unemployment commencing between successive academic years under such circumstances.

FACTS: Claimant performed services for the Houghton-Portage Township Schools during two successive academic years. The period of unemployment at issue occurred between these two successive academic years. Claimant worked for the school in the first of those two years. Claimant was given reasonable assurance that he would be brought back to work in the second academic year. Claimant stated that in the years before 2003, he was employed throughout the summer. He also stated that his pay structure and benefits reflected that full-year employment.

DECISION: The Court of Appeals reversed the Board of Review’s decision. Claimant is ineligible for unemployment benefits.

RATIONALE: The only consideration necessary under MCL 421.27(i)(2) is whether the period of unemployment took place during the period between two successive academic years. MCL 421.27(i)(2) provides that “benefits shall not be paid” for any week of unemployment commencing between successive academic years.

The Court referenced its explanation of MCL 421.27(i)(2) in Adams v West Ottawa Schools 277 Mich App 461, 463, 746 N.W.2d 113 (2008): “[E]mployees working for an educational institution, who are not teachers, researchers, or principal administrators, may not receive unemployment benefits during summer break if they have a reasonable assurance that they will be working in the academic year that follows the summer break.”

Since Claimant’s layoff period in this case was during the summer break, and he had reasonable assurance that his job duties would resume in the upcoming academic year, he is not eligible for benefits. See Riekse v Grand Rapids Pub Schools, 144 Mich App 790, 792-793 (1985).

Furthermore, MCL 421.27(i)(2) does not provide an exception for employees who were offered employment for the period between two successive academic years in past years. In addition, an employee’s subjective expectations about continued employment between two successive academic years should not be considered under MCL 421.27(i)(2).

Digest author: Rita Samaan, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: October 30, 2017

Kentwood Schools v Marks – 5.22

Kentwood Schools v Marks
Digest no. 5.22

Section 27(i)

Cite as: Kentwood Schools v Marks, unpublished opinion of the Kent Circuit Court, issued April 7, 2000 (Docket No. 99-02921-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Esther D. Marks
Employer: Kentwood Schools
Date of decision: April 7, 2000

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: Under Section 27(i)(1), whether the terms and conditions of claimant’s employment are similar to previous work for the employer, is irrelevant to the issue of eligibility when a claimant has a contract in fact for the following school year.

FACTS: Claimant had been a paraprofessional reading instructor. Employer laid claimant off due to budget and personnel cutbacks. Claimant was able to bid on different positions, with equivalent pay, conditions and benefits. Given her seniority claimant was assured work in one of those positions if she wanted it. Instead claimant chose a non-instructional position with a significant decrease in hours and benefits. Claimant had a contract for employment for the following school year.

DECISION: Claimant is ineligible for benefits under Section 27(i).

RATIONALE: “Even where there exists a reasonable assurance of continued employment, benefits may not be denied unless the terms and conditions of such employment are reasonably similar to those of the previous year.” Paynes v Detroit Board of Education, 150 Mich App 358 (1986). But, the existence of a contract negates any requirement for such similar terms and conditions. Paynes, supra, at 372, 373 and 378.

As the claimant had a contract for the following school term, the terms and conditions of claimant’s new employment were irrelevant on the issue of eligibility. The benefit ineligibility provisions of Section 27(i)(1) apply where there is 1) an actual contract or work, or, 2) reasonable assurance of work under similar terms and conditions in an instructional, research or principal administrative capacity.

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

Bernabe v Cornerstone AG Enterprises – 5.20

Bernabe v Cornerstone AG Enterprises
Digest no. 5.20

Section 27(o)

Cite as: Bernabe v Cornerstone Ag Enterprises, unpublished opinion of the Van Buren Circuit Court, issued September 14, 1998 (Docket No. 98-44-392-AE-B).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Ygnacio Bernabe
Employer: Cornerstone AG Enterprises
Docket no.: B98-01921-147951
Date of decision: September 14, 1998

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: An employee who works outside of the designated season is not ineligible for benefits by operation of the seasonal employment denial period set forth in Section 27(o) of the MES Act.

FACTS: The employer operates a blueberry farm. It applied for and received a seasonal employer designation relative to the period June 14 through September 27, 1997. The claimant worked for the employer ten [10] days longer than the season designated by the Unemployment Agency.

DECISION: The claimant was not ineligible under Section 27(o) and may collect benefits during the denial period if otherwise eligible.

RATIONALE: To be ineligible the employee must only receive wages during the season designated by the Agency. Here, the claimant received wages for ten [10] days beyond that period. Consequently, he does not fit the definition of a “seasonal worker.”

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

Thompson v Chippewa Valley School District – 5.18

Thompson v Chippewa Valley School District
Digest no. 5.18

Section 27(i)

Cite as: Thompson v Chippewa Valley School Dist, unpublished opinion of the Macomb Circuit Court, issued August 28, 1997 (Docket No. 96-7631-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Frances A. Thompson
Employer: Chippewa Valley School District
Docket no.: B93-15538-131205
Date of decision: August 28, 1997

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: A claimant is ineligible under Section 27(i) where she has received reasonable assurance of re-employment, despite the fact the assigned employment included a 7% pay reduction.

FACTS: After a millage failure it was anticipated that bus drivers could expect a reduction of one hour to an hour and a half per day in the following year. Thereafter, the school system gave the claimant and other drivers a letter of assurance which indicated the employer believed it would re-employ them in positions similar to what they had in the prior academic year. Claimant asserted she would be experiencing a substantial reduction in hours. But claimant’s hourly earnings were raised from $13.38 to $14.32. The net reduction would be 7%, from $501 to $465 weekly. There was no adverse impact on her fringe benefits.

DECISION: Claimant is ineligible under the school denial provisions of Section 27(i).

RATIONALE: Denial of benefits to a school district employee is authorized under Section 27(9) if she was reasonably assured of re-employment and the economic terms and conditions of employment in the new year were reasonably similar to those of the preceding year.

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

Hofmeister v Armada Area Schools – 5.21

Hofmeister v Armada Area Schools
Digest no. 5.21

Section 27(i)

Cite as: Hofmeister v Armada Area Schools, Macomb Circuit Court No. 96-3916AE (November 20, 1996), lv den Mich App No. 199806 (June 9, 1997).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Patricia Hofmeister
Employer: Armada Area Schools
Docket no.: B93-00816-R01-131220
Date of decision: November 20, 1996

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: Notice of prospective tentative layoff does not negate reasonable assurance contained in collective bargaining agreement.

FACTS: Claimant was a school teacher during the 1991-1992 school year. Her employment was governed by a collective bargaining agreement. The school district was operating with a deficit. A millage election was scheduled for June 8, 1992. As a contingency, teacher layoffs were discussed and the union was so notified.

The June 8, 1992 millage increase failed. Another election was scheduled for September 14, 1992. On June 12, 1992 the school board sent a letter to the union that listed the claimant and others as employees who would be laid off if the millage again failed. On August 19, 1992, pursuant to the bargaining agreement, a letter was sent to the claimant notifying her she would be laid off on September 29, 1992 if the millage did not pass. But, the millage did pass and on September 15, 1992 the claimant and others were notified they were no longer subject to the possibility of layoff.

DECISION: The claimant was subject to the school denial period set forth in Section 27(i)(1).

RATIONALE: The claimant’s employment was governed by a contract, the CBA. The CBA provided for employment until layoff notices were provided and became effective. Layoff notices were not provided until August 19, 1992. The claimant would not have been laid off until September 29, 1992. Thus, during the period for which claimant was seeking unemployment benefits she had a contract for the 1992-93 school year, which provided reasonable assurance. Consequently, she was not entitled to benefits.

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

Brannen v Grand Rapids Public Schools – 5.19

Brannen v Grand Rapids Public Schools
Digest no. 5.19

Section 27(i)

Cite as: Brannen v Grand Rapids Pub Schools, unpublished opinion of the Kent Circuit Court, issued June 14, 1996 (Docket No. 95-5003-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Malcolm E. Brannen
Employer: Grand Rapids Public Schools
Docket no.: B92-30594-R01-124781W
Date of decision: June 14, 1996

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: Assurance of re-employment at 50% of the preceding years’ earnings is not a reasonable assurance of re-employment.

FACTS: The claimant was employed concurrently by two educational institutions. One was the Grand Rapids Public Schools [GRPS]. The other was Grand Rapids Community College [GRCC]. Seventy percent (70%) of his total earnings were the result of his work with the GRPS. The remaining 30% were from GRCC. In July 1992 the claimant was informed his position with the GRPS was being eliminated. At the end of the 1991-1992 academic year GRCC informed him he had a “reasonable assurance” of re-employment in the fall of `92. However, his earnings would be reduced from $14,000 to $7,000 a year if he was not re-employed by the GRPS. The claimant filed a claim for benefits on July 2, 1992. On July 30, 1992 he was recalled by the GRPS. On August 12, 1992 he was offered [and later accepted] a position as a full-time employee of the GRCC at $14,000 per year.

DECISION: The claimant was not subject to the school denial period contained in Section 27(i).

RATIONALE: GRPS conceded that with respect to the GRPS there was no reasonable assurance of continued employment. However, the GRPS asserted claimant should not receive benefits for the period between academic years as he had received “reasonable assurance” from GRCC. The court found that the GRCC had only guaranteed re-employment at half his previous earnings. The court concluded that the, “reasonably assured economic terms of his continued employment would by no stretch of the imagination be reasonably similar to those in the preceding year.”

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