Physicians Health Plan of Mid Michigan v. Chapman – 12.149

Physicians Health Plan of Mid Michigan v. Chapman
Digest No. 12.149

Section 421.29(1)(b)

Cite as: Physicians Health Plan v Chapman, unpublished opinion of the Ingham County Circuit Court, issued December 16, 2008 (Docket No. 08-628-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Shanika Chapman
Employer: Physicians Health Plan of Mid Michigan
Date of decision: December 16, 2008

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HOLDING: It is misconduct as a matter of law when an insurance company employee committs insurance fraud in violation of her employer’s human resources manual.

FACTS: Claimant worked in customer service for the employer insurance company; her job duties included assessing claims and administering customers’ financial obligations. Claimant was fired after she revealed to her employer that she committed criminal fraud by filing a false claim against her car insurance company.

At the ALJ hearing, the employer cited its H.R. policy manual as permitting employee firings for criminal activity, which could harm the employer’s public image. But, the ALJ decided Claimant was still not disqualified from receiving benefits for misconduct. The Board of Review affirmed, citing the mandate to interpret the meaning of misconduct narrowly to avoid disqualification.

DECISION: Reversed. The Circuit Court determined that claimant’s conduct constituted misconduct connected with her work, disqualifying her from benefits.

RATIONALE: The Circuit Court surveyed various cases regarding whether off-duty conduct may be sufficiently connected to a claimant’s work to constitute misconduct. Ultimately, it concluded that, as a matter of law, the filing of a false insurance claim constituted a wanton disregard of the employer’s interests and standards of behavior. This behavior clouded Claimant’s ability to fulfill her job duties, particularly given her unique financial responsibilities; sufficiently involved the employer’s interests; and adversely affected the employer’s behavioral expectations of employees.

Digest author: Austin L. Webbert, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: 10-31-2017

Carter v MESC – 12.01

Carter v MESC
Digest no. 12.01

Section 29(1)(b)

Cite as: Carter v MESC, 364 Mich 538 (1961).

Appeal Pending: No
Claimant: Arthur Carter
Employer: Detroit Lead Corporation
Docket no.: B59 2711 23422
Date of decision: November 30, 1961

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SUPREME COURT HOLDING: “[T]he employee’s refusal to carry out a foreman’s order, and his subsequent threat to punch the foreman in the nose” is misconduct.

FACTS: Claimant was employed by the Detroit Lead Corporation. He was assigned to operate a furnace. The claimant refused to obey an order of his foreman to shovel a pile of lead dust (dross) into the furnace and further, threatened to punch the foreman in the nose if the foreman shoveled the dross into the furnace.

DECISION: The claimant is disqualified for misconduct.

RATIONALE: The Court adopted the definition of misconduct set forth in Boynton Cab Company v Neubeck, 237 Wis 249 (1941): “[T]he term ‘misconduct’ … is limited to conduct evincing such wilful or wanton disregard of an employer’s interests as is found in deliberate violations or disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect of his employee, or in carelessness or negligence of such degree or recurrence as to manifest equal culpability, wrongful intent or evil design, or to show an intentional and substantial disregard of the employer’s interests or of the employee’s duties and obligations to his employer. On the other hand mere inefficiency, unsatisfactory conduct, failure in good performance as the result of inability or incapacity, inadvertencies or ordinary negligence in isolated instances, or good-faith errors in judgment or discretion are not to be deemed ‘misconduct’ within the meaning of the statute.”

“[A] refusal of an employee to carry out a reasonable order of his foreman, coupled with a threat to punch him in the nose when the foreman offered to do the work himself, is misconduct within the meaning of the statute. Such a response is both a wilful disregard of the employer’s interests and a deliberate violation of standards of behavior which an employer has a right to expect of his employee.”

Digest Author:  Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated: 11/90

Cassar v MESC – 12.04

Cassar v MESC
Digest no. 12.04

Section 29(1)(b)

Cite as: Cassar v MESC, 343 Mich 380 (1955).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Francis J. Cassar, et al.
Employer: Precision Manufacturing Co.
Docket no.: B2 5713 14896
Date of decision: October 3, 1955

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SUPREME COURT HOLDING: (1) Participation in an unauthorized work stoppage, in violation of a union contract, is misconduct. (2) Inefficiency is not misconduct, but wilful disregard of an employer’s interest is.

FACTS: All eight claimants took part in an unauthorized work

stoppage precipitated by the discharge of their local union president. They were discharged for refusal to return to work.

DECISION: The claimants were discharged for misconduct.

RATIONALE: The Court adopted the following definition of misconduct from Boynton Cab Co v Neubeck, et al., 237 Wis 249 (1941): “[T]he term ‘misconduct’ … is limited to conduct evincing such wilful or wanton disregard of an employer’s interests as is found in deliberate violations or disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect of his employee, or in carelessness or negligence of such degree or recurrence as to manifest equal culpability, wrongful intent or evil design, or to show an intentional and substantial disregard of the employer’s interests or of the employee’s duties and obligation to his employer. On the other hand mere inefficiency, unsatisfactory conduct, failure in good performance as the result of inability or incapacity, inadvertencies or ordinary negligence in isolated instances, or good-faith errors in judgment or discretion are not to be deemed ‘misconduct’ within the meaning of the statute.”

The Court stated: “Plaintiffs have barred themselves from receiving what they might have obtained had they refrained from indulging in conduct designed to be prejudicial to the rights of their employer.”

Digest Author:  Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated: 11/90