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

Minick v Ann Arbor Public Schools – 5.17

Minick v Ann Arbor Public Schools
Digest no. 5.17

Section 27(i)

Cite as: Minick v Ann Arbor Pub Schools, unpublished opinion of the Washtenaw County Circuit Court, issued April 30, 1991 (Docket No. 90-39906 AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Timothy Minick
Employer: Ann Arbor Public Schools
Docket no.: B89-10215-113204W
Date of decision: April 30, 1991

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: A school district claimant may be subject to the school denial period even if employed at a non-school location if his or her employment is linked to the academic year.

FACTS: Claimant was employed as a “library community assistant” by the Ann Arbor Community Schools. He enforced rules of behavior at the Ann Arbor Public Library which was operated by the school district. His contract provided he would work a maximum of 191 days, from the start of the school year until its conclusion. On May 22, 1989, the claimant was informed his last day of service would be May 31, 1989, and that he would be re-employed in the fall with his first day to be determined. He returned to work on September 1, 1989.

Claimant asserted he should not be subject to the school denial period. He argued the denial period had been expanded into an area not contemplated by the legislature — a public library system serving the public at large on a year-round basis. He further argued his services were in no way linked to the academic cycle. He contended Section 27(i) was intended to be applied to personnel whose services were linked to the academic year.

DECISION: The claimant was subject to the school denial period of the MES Act, Section 27(i).

RATIONALE: The court found a link existed between the claimant’s job and the academic year. The record indicated the need for library security coincided with the library’s use by students during the school year. The court also found that the claimant’s job category fell within the provisions of Section 27(i)(2) and that he was given reasonable assurance as he was informed his job would again be available in the fall.

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

Lansing School District v Beard – 5.16

Lansing School District v Beard
Digest no. 5.16

Section 27(i)

Cite as: Lansing School Dist v Beard, unpublished per curiam of the Court of Appeals of Michigan, issued November 29, 1990 (Docket No. 118334).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Dan F. Beard
Employer: Lansing School District
Docket no.: B87-16460-107488
Date of decision: November 29, 1990

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: Whether there is reasonable assurance is a question of fact to be determined in light of the totality of the circumstances.

FACTS: The claimant was a vocational data processing teacher. Because he was not certified as a vocational education teacher, the claimant was subject to annual authorization. On May 5, 1987, the claimant received a letter requesting that he make plans for obtaining his temporary or permanent vocational educational certification. In this letter, the claimant was informed that all jobs held by teachers who were not vocationally certified by July 1, 1987, would be posted for other applicants. On May 22, 1987, the claimant received a memorandum stating that unless specifically notified to the contrary, he had reasonable assurance of employment for the following school year.

DECISION: The claimant was not ineligible under Section 27(i).

RATIONALE: The May 22, 1987, memorandum did not constitute adequate assurance as a matter of law. Whether there was reasonable assurance was a question of fact. The ambiguity contained in the May 22, 1987, memorandum and the existence of the May 5, 1987, memorandum indicated that the claimant had not received adequate assurance of continued employment sufficient to bar his claim for benefits.

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

Wilkerson v Jackson Public Schools – 5.13

Wilkerson v Jackson Public Schools
Digest no. 5.13

Section 27(i)

Cite as: Wilkerson v Jackson Pub Schools, 170 Mich App 133 (1988); lv den 432 Mich 878 (1989).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Susan A. Wilkerson, et al.
Employer: Jackson Public Schools
Docket no.: B83 18600 96681
Date of decision: May 6, 1988

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: The summer breaks for this program for the years at issue were not periods between successive academic years or established and customary vacation periods. As such the provisions of 27(i) were not applicable.

FACTS: The claimants were teachers and aides in the Adult Basic Education program. Students may enroll at any time during the year. Some students complete the program in several class sessions, others take years. Advancement depends on the individual’s progress. Prior to 1982 this program operated year-round with only a two week break in the summer. In 1982 this break was expanded to 4 weeks. In 1983 the break increased to 10 weeks. In the 1983-84 school year the program’s summer instruction was eliminated and the program was to operate on the same schedule as the K-12 school program.

DECISION: Claimants are not ineligible under school denial period of Section 27(i).

RATIONALE: “The length of the ABE instructional periods is determined by budgetary constraints rather than by the length of time needed to complete the requirements of a particular grade or course. Students do not, as a matter of plan, complete any particular grade or course within any specified time period and they re-enter the program after each break at the same instructional level as when class sessions ended. See Bonnette, 165 Mich App at 472-473. We believe that, as a matter of law, the break periods in the ABE program cannot be classified as periods between two successive academic years…. We also conclude that the summer breaks between 1982 and 1984 cannot be considered established and customary vacation periods…. The summer break schedule changed each year during the three-year transition, making the length of the break too unpredictable to be considered established and customary. We agree with the trial court that the legislative purpose of MESA was to protect workers from the ‘economic crunch’ caused by unexpected periods of unemployment such as those created by the school district in this case.”

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

Billups v Howell Public Schools – 5.07

Billups v Howell Public Schools
Digest no. 5.07

Section 27(i)

Cite as: Billups v Howard Pub Schools, 167 Mich App 407 (1988).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Robert A. Billups, et al.
Employer: Howell Public Schools
Docket no.: B63 06942 R01 95895 et al.
Date of decision: March 22, 1988

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: When non-teachers had a tradition of working from 12-26 thru 1-1 and the collective bargaining agreement provided for a 52 week work year, they had a reasonable expectation to work during that period and the layoffs in question did not occur during an established or customary vacation period under 27(i)(2)(b).

FACTS: The claimants were custodial and maintenance employees. Their unions’ bargaining agreement with the employer provided for work on an hourly basis for 52 weeks per year not including holidays. Their work schedule included the days between Christmas and New Years, spring break, and summer vacation.

The claimants were notified of a 1 week layoff 12-26-82 thru 1-1-83. This had never occurred before during this time and the period was not an established holiday for the claimants although classes were not in session.

DECISION: The school denial period is not applicable. Claimants are entitled to benefits under Section 27(i)(2)(b) of the Act.

RATIONALE: Based upon their previous history and their collective bargaining agreement the claimants had a reasonable expectation of working between 12-26 and 1-1. While school may not have been in session, this is not the determinative factor as to what constitutes an “established and customary vacation period”. Rather it refers to periods where the employees did not traditionally work and did not have a collective bargaining agreement to work.

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