White v. Meritain Health, Inc. – 10.123

White v. Meritain Health, Inc.
Digest No. 10.123

Section 421.29

Cite as: White v Meritain Health, Inc, unpublished opinion of the Ingham County Circuit Court, issued July 17, 2015 (Case No. 14-1432-AA).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Amy White
Employer: Meritain Health, Inc.
Date of decision: July 17, 2015

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HOLDING: Whether a claimant voluntarily quit his/her job is a two-pronged analysis according to MCL 421.29(1)(a). The test was further clarified by the Michigan Supreme Court in Warren v Caro Community Hospital, 457 Mich 361 (1998). The ALJ failed to apply the two-pronged voluntary leaving test in this case.

FACTS: Claimant felt threatened by her ex-husband, who had a history of abusive behavior towards her. Claimant obtained a Personal Protection Order against her ex-husband and took steps to hide her home and work addresses from him. Claimant’s ex-husband showed up at her work (Meritain Health) one day and parked at a neighboring lot. Claimant felt threatened and informed her direct supervisor, who did not offer any help but told Claimant that she “needed to deal with her personal issues on her own time.” The employer’s protocol prevented Claimant from bringing the issue to any other supervisor. Claimant’s ex-husband returned to the parking lot next to her job a second time. Having no supervisor to turn to, Claimant submitted her two weeks’ notice of quitting because she did not feel safe on the premises anymore.

DECISION: The ALJ acted contrary to law when he failed to address whether Claimant’s separation from her job was voluntary. The case was remanded to the ALJ to apply the Warren v. Caro Community Hospital test and find whether the Claimant’s employment separation was voluntary.

RATIONALE: The Court reasoned that MCL 421.29(1)(a) clearly states there are two factors to analyze: (1) whether an individual left work voluntarily and, if so, (2) whether the voluntary leaving was with good cause attributable to the employer. Thus, the Court found the ALJ did err when he failed to conclude whether Claimant’s separation from her job was voluntary.

The term “voluntary” in this context “connotes a choice between alternatives which ordinary persons would find reasonable. Clark v North Detroit General Hospital, 179 Mich App 511, 515-16 (1989) aft’d 437 Mich 280 (1991). This reasonableness standard was part of the ALJ’s assessment of the standard for good cause attributable to the employer. This is evident by the ALJ’s statement that good cause would be found “where the employer’s actions would cause a reasonable, average, or otherwise qualified worker to give up his or her employment.” Carswell v Share House, Inc, 151 Mich App 392, 396-97 (1986) (quoting).

Digest author: Rita Samaan, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: 10/31/2017

 

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

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

Dejarnette v HR Staffing Team, LLC– 10.124

Dejarnette v HR Staffing Team, LLC
Digest No. 10.124

Section 421.29

 

Cite as: Dejarnette v HR Staffing Team, LLC, unpublished opinion of the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission, issued August 26, 2013 (Docket No.: B2013-07161:238484).

 

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Pamela Dejarnette
Employer: HR Staffing Team, LLC
Date of decision: August 26, 2013

 

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HOLDING: Claimant is not disqualified for benefits under the voluntary leaving provision of  MCL 29(1)(a).

FACTS: Claimant worked for a staffing agency. Claimant was experiencing difficulties and notified her employer that she would no longer report to her last assignment. Claimant requested another assignment but the employer told Claimant no other assignments were currently available. After learning no other assignments were available, Claimant filed for benefits.

DECISION: The matter is referred to the Agency for determination under MCL 48(1) because Claimant left an assignment and that work remained available to her. Claimant may therefore be subject to offset under the lost remuneration provision of MCL 48(1).

RATIONALE: The Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission stated that the employer must first establish that a claimant voluntarily left employment before a matter can be addressed under MCL 29(1)(a). See Ackerberg v Grant Community Hospital, 138 Mich App 295 (1984). The court reasoned that Claimant had not voluntarily left her employment. Instead, Claimant left an assignment. Therefore, the court found MCL 29(1)(a) to be inapplicable in this case.

Digest author: Rita Samaan, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: October 25, 2017

Cross v Tri-Fecta, Inc – 10.121

Cross v Tri-Fecta, Inc
Digest no. 10.121

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Cross v Tri-Fecta, Inc, Genesee Circuit Court, No. 12-98465-AE (June 27, 2013).

Appeal pending:
Claimant: Michelle H. Cross
Employer: Tri-Fecta, Inc.
Docket no.: 12-98465-AE
Date of decision: June 27, 2013

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: When a claimant holds a part-time job and full-time job simultaneously, then voluntarily quits the part time position only to subsequently be terminated from her full-time position in a qualifying manner is not disqualified from unemployment benefits due to the voluntary quit of the part-time job.

FACTS: Claimant held two jobs simultaneously: a full-time position at Quality Roofing, and a part-time job as a waitress at Employer Tri-Fecta, Inc. Claimant left her job with Employer on April 10, 2009, leaving her with only her full-time position at Quality Roofing. However, shortly thereafter, she was let go from that job as well in a qualifying manner. Claimant applied for benefits, and a UIA determination found in her favor.

Employer appealed Claimant’s benefits, and the ALJ found in Employer’s favor due to an erroneous interpretation of the facts believing that Employer Tri-Fecta. was Claimant’s last employer. On appeal, MCAC noted the mistaken facts but still found for Employer because of voluntary termination from Employer Tri-Fecta. Claimant appealed to the Circuit Court.

DECISION: The MCAC decision is reversed, and Claimant is entitled to unemployment benefits.

RATIONALE: The court’s reasoning in this case is short and unusual, and provided here in its entirety: “In this case the factual findings of the ALJ cannot be determined to be conclusive. They were clearly in error. The Court further finds that the MCAC decision is in error. The MCAC reviews the findings and decisions of the ALJ. The decisions of the ALJ are to be accorded deference. Who can tell what the decision of the ALJ would have been had the ALJ known the facts as they really were? The Court finds that the review process in this case is entirely flawed. This Court has not been made aware of any appellate decision in the State of Michigan that upholds the results before me. The Court further finds the rationale and reasoning of the Kent County Circuit Court case cited by claimant to be persuasive. ”

Digest Author: Jack Battaglia
Digest Updated: 8/14

Voorhees v. Allegiance Health – 10.120

Voorhees v. Allegiance Health
Digest no. 10.120

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Voorhees v Allegiance Health, Unpublished Opinion of the Jackson County Circuit Court, Issued March 29, 2013 (Docket No. 12-3123-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Jennifer M. Voorhees
Employer: Allegiance Health
Docket no.: 12-3123-AE
Date of decision: March 29, 2013

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HOLDING: Claimant left her employment with good cause attributable to her employer and is not disqualified from benefits.

FACTS: Claimant had been working for Employer without any warnings for three years when there was an emergency drill that required employees to stay in the building, even though she was supposed to be at home and had childcare duties to tend to. When her husband called her supervisor, the supervisor told the entire office about the call, and told Claimant that her husband was abusive and that he drinks. After reporting this incident, Claimant received a number of bad reviews and discipline. Claimant’s doctor required that Claimant not go to work for three days due to the stress of this situation, and upon her return, Claimant was subjected to further bad reviews and discipline. The next day, Claimant quit her job.

Claimant applied for benefits, but UIA issued a redetermination finding that she was disqualified. On appeal, the ALJ found that she acted as “[a] reasonable, average, and otherwise qualified person in giving up her employment” and that there she had established through evidence that she was harassed following the emergency drill situation. Employer appealed, and the MCAC reversed the ALJ decision. Claimant timely appealed to the Circuit Court.

DECISION: The decision of the MCAC is reversed and the Claimant’s unemployment benefits are to restored as she left her employment with good cause attributable to her employer.

RATIONALE: Since Claimant had been employed for three years without receiving any written warnings, and she was written up for six separate issues on two occasions following her complaint regarding her supervisor, Claimant established that she was harassed. Because of this, a reasonable, average, and otherwise qualified worker would leave their employment.

Digest author: Nick Phillips
Digest updated: 8/14

Sheppard v Meijer Great Lakes Limited – 10.119

Sheppard v Meijer Great Lakes Limited
Digest no. 10.119

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Sheppard v Meijer Great Lakes Limited, Unpublished Opinion of the Michigan Court of Appeals, Issued Dec. 20, 2012 (Docket No. 300681).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Linda M. Sheppard
Employer: Meijer Great Lakes Limited
Docket no.: 10-000383-AE
Date of decision: December 20, 2012

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HOLDING: Claimant did not leave voluntarily for the purposes of Section 29(1)(a) when she attempted to take a leave of absence, failed to follow the correct procedures, and was subsequently discharged by the Employer.

FACTS: Claimant worked for Employer and attempted to take a two-month leave of absence. She notified her supervisor that she would be doing so, and her supervisor testified that he informed her that she would need written approval from the store director before she could take such a leave. There was a miscommunication regarding the approval, with both parties believing the other had obtained the necessary authorization. Claimant left without authorization and was subsequently terminated from her employment.

Claimant applied for and began receiving unemployment benefits. Employer protested her claim, arguing that Claimant had voluntarily resigned. The UIA issued a redetermination stating that Claimant was not qualified for benefits due to misconduct. On appeal, the ALJ affirmed the decision, stating that because Sheppard did not receive approval to take the leave of absence before she left work, she was not qualified because of misconduct. Claimant appealed to the Board of Review, which affirmed the ALJ on the grounds that she abandoned her employment, and was disqualified based on Section 29(1)(a), the voluntary leaving provision, not the misconduct provision. Sheppard appealed to the Circuit Court, which did not determine whether Sheppard abandoned her employment, but affirmed the Board of Review decision. Finally, Sheppard applied for leave to appeal, which was denied by the Court of Appeals but subsequently granted by the Michigan Supreme Court.

DECISION: The Circuit Court erred when it affirmed the Board of Review’s determination that Claimant voluntarily quit. The Circuit Court’s decision is vacated and Claimant is not disqualified from benefits.

RATIONALE: In determining whether a claimant is disqualified from benefits under 29(1)(a), the Court must first determine whether she voluntarily left her job, or was discharged. If it is found the claimant did not voluntarily quit, “the inquiry ends” and the claimant “is entitled to unemployment compensation.”

The Court of Appeals has previously held that “when an employee requests a leave of absence, and the employer actually terminates the employee’s employment, that employee has not voluntarily quit.” A voluntary quit must be an intentional act, but here, the act to end employment was conducted by the employer. Since there was no evidence that Claimant voluntarily quit or did not report for work on a day that Meijer expected her to work, the Circuit Court erred as a matter of law in upholding the Board of Review determination that Claimant voluntarily quit.

Digest author: Nick Phillips
Digest updated: 8/14