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Cite as: Braska v Challenge Mfg Co, Unpublished Opinion of the Court of Appeals of Michigan, Issued October 23, 2014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

Winfied Machine Service LLC v. UIA – 14.19

Winfied Machine Service LLC v. UIA
Digest No. 14.19

Section 429.21(1)(i)

Cite as: Winfied Machine Services, LLC v Havens, unpublished opinion of the Macomb Circuit Court, issued July 13, 2009 (Docket No. 2009-­0342-­AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Dennis Havens
Employer: Winfied Machine Services LLC
Date of decision: July 13, 2009

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HOLDING: Because the Michigan Employment Security Act does not define “theft” for the purposes of MCL 429.21(1)(i), a claimant cannot be disqualified from receiving benefits when “theft” is interpreted as requiring felonious intent and the employer fails to establish that the claimant acted with felonious intent.

FACTS: Claimant was fired after his employer discovered that he had sold a hydraulic pump allegedly stolen from the employer. Testimony on behalf of the Claimant suggested that a third party had given Claimant the pump, and that Claimant was unaware of any prior owners.  Neither the ALJ nor the Michigan Employment Security Board of Review could determine true ownership of the pump. Since ownership of the pump was unclear, the Board found that the employer failed to meet its burden of demonstrating Claimant’s felonious intent to deprive the employer of its alleged property.

DECISION: The court declined to reverse the decision of the Michigan Employment Security Board of Review because it was supported by “competent, material and substantial evidence on the whole record, and clearly conformed to the law.”

RATIONALE: Because the Michigan Employment Security Act does not define “theft,” it is not contrary to the law to determine that an element of theft is felonious intent.  Under such an interpretation, a claimant cannot be disqualified from receiving benefits under MCL 429.21(1)(i) when the Employer fails to establish felonious intent.

Digest author: James Mestichelli, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: 3/29/2016

Andrews v. COD Food Services, Inc. – 14.15

Andrews v. COD Food Services, Inc.
Digest No. 14.15

Section 421.29

Cite as: Andrews v COD Food Services, Inc, unpublished opinion of the Wayne County Circuit Court, issued August 29, 2008 (Docket No. 08-103679AE)

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: James R. Andrews
Employer: COD Food Services, Inc.
Date of decision: August 29, 2008

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HOLDING: While there must be a causal connection between the alleged theft and discharge of employment, the MESA 421.29(1)(i) does not require that the discharge occur within a specific period of time.

FACTS: On June 3, 2007, Employer learned $150 was missing from the counting room. When confronted about it, Claimant admitted to stealing the money. Claimant returned his set of keys to the counting room, and no longer had access to it after that date. However, Claimant was not fired for the theft until nearly two months later on August 2, 2007. Employer testified that he did not discharge Claimant immediately because he was “extremely short handed.” Claimant indicated that he was never given a reason for his discharge. Claimant filed for and received benefits. Employer protested. At hearing, ALJ ruled in favor of Claimant, but the Board of Review reversed. Claimant appealed.

DECISION: Evidence supporting the Board of Review’s finding that Claimant was discharged for theft was sufficiently substantial; the Board’s decision is upheld.

RATIONALE: Employer did not “condone” Claimant’s behavior by keeping him on for two more months after the theft. Furthermore, just because Claimant offered to return the key to the counting room does not mean Claimant was not reprimanded for the theft. Claimant was stripped of his counting room privileges, and removed from his position as closing supervisor, which shows he was punished for his actions. Employer stated a legitimate economic interest in keeping Claimant on until August. The statute does not mandate a specific timeframe for discharge because of theft. Though the causal connection between the two events weakens with time, there was no evidence here “that Claimant was discharged for a reason other than theft.” Pursuant to 421.29(1)(i) (disqualification for theft), Claimant may be disqualified for benefits.

Digest author: Jacob Harris, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: 3/30/2016

Ciaravino v. Ford Motor Co. – 14.16

Ciaravino v. Ford Motor Co.
Digest No. 14.16

Section 421.29(1)(m)

Cite as: Ciaravino v Ford Motor Co, unpublished opinion of the Macomb County Circuit Court, issued December 19, 2007 (Docket No. 2007-2858-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Robert Ciaravino
Employer: Ford Motor Company
Docket no.: 189730H
Date of decision: December 19, 2007

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Holding: The Board’s decision that Ciaravino should be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits was not contrary to law and was supported by substantial evidence. Ford’s evidence was sufficient to show that Ciaravino’s positive drug test for marijuana, a controlled substance, disqualified him from receiving benefits.

Facts: Robert Ciaravino worked as an employee for Ford Motor Company from October 1994 until October 7, 2005. After he tested positive for marijuana during a random urinalysis, he was discharged. Ciaravino’s specimen was taken by Beverley Tukis, a Ford full-time nurse, and the positive drug results were received by Sally Gruca, another Ford full-time nurse.

Decision: The circuit court affirmed the Board of Review’s decision, which found the claimant to be disqualified from receiving benefits for misconduct under Section 29(1)(m) of the MES Act.

Rationale: Though Ciaravino denied using marijuana and said he had been taking Vicodin for a knee injury, there was no evidence that Vicodin would produce a false positive for marijuana or that the test was erroneous. Ciaravino had also signed a Reinstatement Waiver on April 4, 2005 in which he agreed to submit to random drug and alcohol testing as a condition of employment at Ford. The discharge of an individual due to ingestion of marijuana, which is considered a “controlled substance” pursuant to MCL 333.7104, 7201 and 7212, disqualifies the individual from receiving benefits. Ford also provided sufficient evidence to establish an adequate chain of custody from which a positive specimen result could be inferred.

Digest Author: Alisa Hand, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest Updated: 3/1/2016

Fowler v Marubeni Metal Blanking – 14.17

Fowler v Marubeni Metal Blanking
Digest No. 14.17

Section 421.29(1)(m)

Cite as: Fowler v Marubeni Metal Blanking, unpublished opinion of the Shiawassee County Circuit Court, issued December 15, 2006 (Docket No. 06-4352-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: David L. Fowler
Employer: Marubeni Metal Blanking
Date of decision: December 15, 2006

View/download the full decision

HOLDING: A claimant cannot be disqualified from receiving benefits for a discharge resulting from the claimant’s refusal to submit to a drug test where the drug test was not administered in an impartial and objective manner.

FACTS: The employer decided to drug test the entire workforce due to a number of unusual occurrences, and because the employer was informed employees were using prescription drugs prescribed to other persons. The employees, including Claimant, were told that if they had a valid prescription and tested positive for that drug they would be okay.

When informed of the employer’s intent to test all employees, Claimant asked to speak with the plant manager. Claimant disclosed that he had taken Vicodin over the weekend from an earlier prescription and didn’t know if the prescription was “valid”. He asked to use his phone because he wanted to call his doctor and see if the prescription was “valid”. His request was denied because the employer was concerned that he might give the later shifts advance notice of the drug testing. No one from the employer was able to clarify what constituted a “valid” prescription. Claimant refused to take the test and was fired.

An ALJ found that Claimant was not disqualified for benefits under Section 29(1)(m)(ii) of the Act. The Board of Review reversed.   

DECISION: The Board of Review’s decision is reversed. Claimant is not disqualified from receiving unemployment insurance benefits under Section 29(1)(m)(ii) of the Act.

RATIONALE: For a claimant to be disqualified under Section 29(1)(m)(ii), he must refuse “to submit to a drug test that was required to be administered in a nondiscriminatory manner”. A claimant’s refusal to submit to a drug test cannot be adjudicated without first determining whether the test was administered in a nondiscriminatory manner. Under Section 29(1)(m)(ii)(C), for a drug test to be administered in a “nondiscriminatory manner”, it must be “administered impartially and objectively.”

Here, Claimant is not disqualified for benefits under Section 29(1)(m)(ii) because the drug test was not administered in a non-discriminatory manner because it was administered subjectively and based on improper information. Claimant made an appropriate request for clarification, and when the employer chose to give unclear and incorrect information, the risk of confusing a worker causing that worker to make a wrong decision was foreseeable. Further, the employer’s explanation to Claimant did not include the fact that Claimant would have the right to dispute the result of the testing.

Digest author: Stephanie Marshak, Michigan Law, Class of 2016
Digest updated: October 29, 2017

UIA v Varga

 

Digest No. Digest No. 19.12

19 USC § 2291(a)(5)
Cite as: Unemployment Insurance Agency v Redlin, unpublished opinion of the Jackson County Circuit Court, issued March 20, 2006 (Docket No. 182823).

Appeal pending: No

Claimant:  Peter Varga

Employer: N/A

Date of decision: March 20, 2006

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HOLDING: The application of agency by estoppel to the Agency is contrary to U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

FACTS: Claimant filed for Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA) benefits. All claimants who file for benefits are referred to Michigan Works!, Michigan Works! is changed with processing both training authorizations and waivers. Here, Claimant acted on faulty advice of a Michigan Works! Employee and was determined to be ineligible for benefits by the Agency for non-compliance with 19 USC § 2291(a)(5). The Administrative Law Judge reversed the Agency’s determination and found the Claimant eligible for TRA benefits. The Michigan Employment Security Board of Review affirmed this decision on a theory of agency by estoppel. The Board of Review reasoned that since the Agency’s Fact Sheets refer claimants to Michigan Works! and since a claimant, with no knowledge of the “system”, should not be expected to know that an employee of the Agency “acted beyond the scope of his authority”, the ALJ properly found the employee was the Agency’s agent by estoppel.

DECISION: The holding of the Michigan Employment Security Board of Review is affirmed in part and reversed in part. Claimant is entitled to TRA benefits and the Board of Review’s application of estoppel to the Agency is reversed.

RATIONALE: The Board of Review reached the correct conclusion regarding eligibility for benefits but for the wrong reasons. Claimant received a waiver and therefore met the eligibility requirements of 19 USC § 2291(a)(5)(C) which does not contain the deadlines in 19 USC § 2291(a)(5)(A). As a result, Claimant is eligible for TRA benefits. However, the portion of the Board of Review’s reliance on the theory of estoppel was contrary to law as it is inconsistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent.  

Digest author: Cydney Warburton, Michigan Law, Class of 2017

Digest updated: 11/19/2017

UIA v Redlin

UIA v Redlin

Digest No. 19.11

19 USC § 2291(a)(5)

Cite as: Unemployment Insurance Agency v Redlin, unpublished opinion of the Lenawee County Circuit Court, issued January 11, 2006 (Docket No. 182123).

Appeal pending: No

Claimant: Matthew Redlin

Employer: N/A

Date of decision: January 11, 2006

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HOLDING: Agency was not established where a claimant relied on the faulty advice of a Michigan Works! employee who was acting beyond the scope of his authority, regarding filing for Trade Readjustment Allowance benefits.

FACTS: Claimant filed for Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA) benefits. All claimants who file for benefits are referred to Michigan Works!, Michigan Works! is changed with processing both training authorizations and waivers. Here, Claimant acted on faulty advice of a Michigan Works! Employee and was determined to be ineligible for benefits by the Agency for non-compliance with 19 USC § 2291(a)(5). The Administrative Law Judge reversed the Agency’s determination and found the Claimant eligible for TRA benefits. The Michigan Employment Security Board of Review affirmed this decision on a theory of agency by estoppel. The Board of Review reasoned that since the Agency’s Fact Sheets refer claimants to Michigan Works! and since a claimant, with no knowledge of the “system”, should not be expected to know that an employee of the Agency “acted beyond the scope of his authority”, the ALJ properly found the employee was the Agency’s agent by estoppel.

DECISION: The holding of the Michigan Employment Security Board of Review is reversed. Claimant is not entitled to TRA benefits.

RATIONALE:  The Board of Review’s reliance on the theory of estoppel was contrary to law.

Digest author: Cydney Warburton, Michigan Law, Class of 2017

Digest updated: 11/19/2017