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Cite as: Physicians Health Plan v Chapman, unpublished opinion of the Ingham County Circuit Court, issued December 16, 2008 (Docket No. 08-628-AE).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

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Cite as: Andrews v COD Food Services, Inc, unpublished opinion of the Wayne County Circuit Court, issued August 29, 2008 (Docket No. 08-103679AE)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

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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

Parks v MESC – 12.11

Parks v MESC
Digest no. 12.11

Section 29(1)(b)

Cite as: Parks v MESC, 427 Mich 224 (1986).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Anne B. Parks
Employer: Detroit Public Schools
Docket no.: B78 12258 66005
Date of decision: December 26, 1986

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SUPREME COURT HOLDING: An individual whose employment is terminated for failing to pay agency shop fees as required by the applicable collective bargaining agreement is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.

FACTS: Claimant’s employment with the Detroit Public Schools was terminated pursuant to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement because she failed to pay agency shop fees to the Detroit Federation of Teachers, the recognized bargaining agent for teachers and counselors. She objected to being “forced” to financially support an organization which conducted activities to which she was opposed.

DECISION: The claimant is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.

RATIONALE: A majority of the Court held the claimant is disqualified. A plurality, Justices Brickley and Archer and Chief Justice Williams, concluded the claimant should be disqualified for work-connected misconduct under Section 29(1)(b) as her failure to pay agency shop fees after receiving notice from the employer demonstrated an intentional disregard of the employer’s interests. Two justices, Boyle and Cavanaugh, concluded that the claimant, by failing to pay the shop fees as required by the agreement, had voluntarily left her work without good cause attributable to the employer.

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

Rosewarne, d/b/a Crossroads Imports v Dyktor – 10.42

Rosewarne, d/b/a Crossroads Imports v Dyktor
Digest no. 10.42

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Rosewarne v Dyktor, , unpublished opinion of the Ingham Circuit Court, issued February 26, 1985 (Docket No. 82-28690 AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Denise R. Dyktor
Employer: Mary Anne Rosewarne, d/b/a Crossroads Imports
Docket no.: B81 01118 76258
Date of decision: February 26, 1985

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: (1) An employee who gives notice of an intent to quit should not be penalized with a loss of wages by termination prior to the intended date of separation. (2) Since claimant was the party seeking review and the one unemployed, it was not an abuse of discretion to deny the employer’s request for an adjournment.

FACTS: The employer discharged claimant in anticipation of the claimant’s projected departure.

DECISION: Claimant is not disqualified for voluntary leaving.

RATIONALE: The court, agreeing with Miller v Visiting Nurses Association, 1978 BR 54326, stated that notice of an employee’s intention to quit is a benefit to the employer. Thus, it makes no sense to discourage this practice by allowing the employer the prerogative of deciding the employee’s last date. “This court is merely acknowledging notions of fundamental fairness … The giving of notice … is appropriate behavior by an employee. Such behavior should not be penalized with a loss of expected wages.”

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

Davidson v Globe Security Systems – 10.43

Davidson v Globe Security Systems
Digest no. 10.43

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Davidson v Globe Security Systems, No. 82-10158 AW Monroe Circuit Court (January 25, 1985).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Dennis Davidson
Employer: Globe Security Systems
Docket no.: B81 02428 76380
Date of decision: January 25, 1985

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: Claimant was laid off when the employer unreasonably deprived claimant of work.

FACTS: The employer decided to eliminate the day shift of guards and to continue the afternoon and night shifts. The seniority of some day guards entitled them to bump a corresponding number of afternoon and night guards. Claimant could not immediately answer when he was asked whether he wanted afternoon or night shift, and replied that he wanted time to think. The employer treated this response as a quit.

DECISION: Claimant is not disqualified for voluntary leaving.

RATIONALE: “The employer gave the claimant a right to choose. The effect on a person’s lifestyle in choosing one shift as opposed to the other could and probably would be very great. The employer reasonably had three options: to make an immediate assignment to either shift; to fix time for the employee to consider; to tell the employee he must make an immediate choice or be deemed to have quit. The employer followed none of these options, but opted unreasonably to deprive the employee of any work.”

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