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Cite as: Martin v. E.C. Brooks Correctional Facility, Unpublished Opinion of the Court of Appeals of Michigan, Issued Dec. 24, 2014 (Docket No. 316393).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

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 v. Nodurft, Unpublished Opinion of the Michigan Court of Appeals, issued June 3, 2014 (Docket No. 312205)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

Cite as: Logan v. Manpower of Lansing, INC., 874 N.W.2d 679 (Mich.App. 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

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

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

Bechill v. Benzie County Government Center – 10.98

Bechill v. Benzie County Government Center
Digest No. 10.98

Section 421.29(1)(a)

Cite as: Bechill v Benzie Co. Gov’t Ctr, Benzie Circuit Court, No. B 2007-21980-RM2-201487W (August 21, 2009).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Richard J. Bechill
Employer: Benzie County Government Center
Docket no.: 201487wh
Date of decision: August 21, 2009

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HOLDING: When a claimant voluntarily terminates his or her employment, a significant reduction in wages (via a reduction in work hours) constitutes good cause attributable to the employer as a matter of public policy.

FACTS: Claimant was a dispatcher at the Benzie County Sheriff’s Office. For the first five months of his employment, Claimant was working an average of 40 hours per week. Over the summer, as a result of a myriad of factors, Claimant voluntarily worked an average of 18.25 hours per week. When Claimant saw that he was only scheduled for 3 days of work (16-20 hours) for the entirety of the next month (which he has not requested), Claimant voluntarily terminated his employment.

Claimant applied for unemployment benefits but was denied. He subsequently appealed this decision and the Board of Review upheld the denial of benefits due to the fact that (1) Claimant could not show proof that he was guaranteed a certain number of hours per week and (2) Claimant failed to show that a reasonable person would have quit instead of filing a grievance under the collective bargaining agreement that governed Claimant’s employment. Claimant then submitted a request a rehearing which was denied.

DECISION: The Board of Review decision is reversed and Claimant is entitled to unemployment benefits.

RATIONALE: As a matter of public policy, a non-voluntary, significant reduction in wages constitutes good cause attributable to the employer. If the court did not allow this to constitute good cause, this could allow employers to reduce wages near benefit level instead of releasing an employee. This would compel the employee’s resignation while simultaneously making them ineligible for benefits. Robertson v. Brown, 139 So. 2d 226, 229, 100 ALR 2d 1052 (La. Ct. App. 1962). This could make reducing hours a weapon of control for employers to make employees comply with their demands. Bunny’s Waffle Shop, Inc. v. Cal. Emp’t Comm’n, 151 P.2d 224, 227-28, 24 Cal. 2d 735, 741-43 (1944).

Digest Author: Cydney Warburton, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest Updated: 1/6/2016

Laque v. Tru Tech Systems, Inc., UIA – 12.144

Laque v. Tru Tech Systems, Inc., UIA
Digest No. 12.144

Section 421.29(1)(a)

Cite as: Laque v Tru Tech Systems, Inc., Macomb Circuit Court, No. 2005-4944-AE

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Michael J. Laque
Employer: Tru Tech Systems, Inc.
Docket no.: 2005-4944-AE
Date of decision: May 25, 2006

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HOLDING: When a claimant voluntarily terminates his or her employment, a withholding of wages by the employer pursuant to an IRS order constitutes good cause attributable to the employer when the employer continues such withholding long after the IRS order is resolved.

FACTS: Claimant held a traveling service job for Tru Tech, beginning January 2003 and ending in December 2004 when he quit due to withheld paychecks. In November 2004, Employer began to withhold wages earned by Claimant pursuant to a levy issued by the IRS. Claimant explained that the IRS had issued the levy by mistake and produced a release of the levy eight days after the IRS’s request for withholding. Employer continued to withhold paychecks due on December 2, 9, and 16, and on December 20, 2004, Claimant called Employer to end his employment due to the unnecessarily withheld pay. On December 18 (or earlier, based on the testimony of Employer), Claimant met with Employer to discuss changing his status to independent contractor. Employer failed to produce written record of any such discussion and claimant “vehemently disputed the employer’s testimony” that he had ever considered himself an independent contractor. When Claimant filed for unemployment benefits, his claim was denied by the Unemployment Insurance Agency. On appeal to an Administrative Law Judge, this decision was reversed and his claim was granted. On Employer’s appeal to the Michigan Employment Security Board of Review, the ALJ’s decision was at first reversed, then affirmed on reconsideration. Employer then appealed further to the District Court.

DECISION: The Board of Review decision is affirmed and Claimant is entitled to unemployment insurance benefits.

RATIONALE: When a justification for withholding pay, such as an IRS order, becomes ineffective (e.g., by an official rescission of the IRS order), employers immediately regain their duty to pay their employees in a timely fashion. For the relevant legal question of whether a “reasonable, average, and otherwise qualified worker” would give up her or his employment, such circumstances are essentially the same, from the worker’s perspective, as an employer withholding pay for no reason.

Digest Author: James Fahringer, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest Updated: 1/6/2016