White v. Meritain Health, Inc. – 10.123

White v. Meritain Health, Inc.
Digest No. 10.123

Section 421.29

Cite as: White v Meritain Health, Inc, unpublished opinion of the Ingham County Circuit Court, issued July 17, 2015 (Case No. 14-1432-AA).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Amy White
Employer: Meritain Health, Inc.
Date of decision: July 17, 2015

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HOLDING: Whether a claimant voluntarily quit his/her job is a two-pronged analysis according to MCL 421.29(1)(a). The test was further clarified by the Michigan Supreme Court in Warren v Caro Community Hospital, 457 Mich 361 (1998). The ALJ failed to apply the two-pronged voluntary leaving test in this case.

FACTS: Claimant felt threatened by her ex-husband, who had a history of abusive behavior towards her. Claimant obtained a Personal Protection Order against her ex-husband and took steps to hide her home and work addresses from him. Claimant’s ex-husband showed up at her work (Meritain Health) one day and parked at a neighboring lot. Claimant felt threatened and informed her direct supervisor, who did not offer any help but told Claimant that she “needed to deal with her personal issues on her own time.” The employer’s protocol prevented Claimant from bringing the issue to any other supervisor. Claimant’s ex-husband returned to the parking lot next to her job a second time. Having no supervisor to turn to, Claimant submitted her two weeks’ notice of quitting because she did not feel safe on the premises anymore.

DECISION: The ALJ acted contrary to law when he failed to address whether Claimant’s separation from her job was voluntary. The case was remanded to the ALJ to apply the Warren v. Caro Community Hospital test and find whether the Claimant’s employment separation was voluntary.

RATIONALE: The Court reasoned that MCL 421.29(1)(a) clearly states there are two factors to analyze: (1) whether an individual left work voluntarily and, if so, (2) whether the voluntary leaving was with good cause attributable to the employer. Thus, the Court found the ALJ did err when he failed to conclude whether Claimant’s separation from her job was voluntary.

The term “voluntary” in this context “connotes a choice between alternatives which ordinary persons would find reasonable. Clark v North Detroit General Hospital, 179 Mich App 511, 515-16 (1989) aft’d 437 Mich 280 (1991). This reasonableness standard was part of the ALJ’s assessment of the standard for good cause attributable to the employer. This is evident by the ALJ’s statement that good cause would be found “where the employer’s actions would cause a reasonable, average, or otherwise qualified worker to give up his or her employment.” Carswell v Share House, Inc, 151 Mich App 392, 396-97 (1986) (quoting).

Digest author: Rita Samaan, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: 10/31/2017

 

Myllylahti v. Full Force Diamond Drilling – 10.109

Myllylahti v. Full Force Diamond Drilling
Digest No. 10.109

Section 421.29(1)(a)

Cite as: Myllylahti v Full Force Diamond Drilling, unpublished opinion of the Ontonagon County Circuit Court, issued February 9, 2010 (Docket No. 09-71 AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Robert J. Myllylahti
Employer: Full Force Diamond Drilling USA, Inc.
Date of decision: February 9, 2010

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HOLDING: Where the working conditions imposed on a claimant by the employer are mentally and physically challenging enough to cause a reasonable, average or otherwise qualified worker to give up his employment, the claimant’s leaving was with good cause attributable to the employer.   

FACTS: Claimant began working for the employer on October 1, 2008 as a driller’s assistant working 13 hours per day, seven days per week. Claimant’s last day of work was October 22, 2008, when Claimant quit without prior notice to employer in the middle of his shift. Claimant indicated that the work was too hard and he could no longer do it. However, Claimant did not notify his employer of any work-related problems prior to quitting.

DECISION: The ALJ found that Claimant was disqualified for benefits. The MCAC affirmed. The Circuit Court reversed. Claimant is not disqualified for benefits.  

RATIONALE: To determine whether an employee left employment due to good cause attributable to the employer, the reasonable person standard is applied. “Under that standard, ‘good cause’ compelling an employee to terminate his or her employment should be found where the employer’s actions would cause a reasonable, average, or otherwise qualified worker to give up his or her employment.” Carswell v Share House, Inc, 151 Mich App 392, 396-397 (1986). The cumulative effect of 13 hours of heavy manual labor every day for twenty-two days straight, both mentally and physically, on a reasonable, average or otherwise qualified worker is born out by the record. Claimant’s physical inability to continue to do the job demanded of him by the employer, under working conditions imposed by the employer, would cause a reasonable, average or otherwise qualified worker to give up his employment, as well. This constitutes good cause attributable to the employer and not a personal reason attributable to claimant.

Digest author: Cydney Warburton, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: 10/31/2017

Corney v Amstaff PEO, Inc – 10.67

Corney v Amstaff PEO, Inc
Digest no. 10.67

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Corney v Amstaff PEO, Inc, Wayne Circuit Court, No. 96-645985-AE (April 28, 1997).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Joan G. Corney
Employer: Amstaff PEO, Inc.
Docket no.: B96-00644-139329
Date of decision: April 28, 1997

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: An employee’s leaving is non-disqualifying when under the totality of the circumstances, the employer’s course of conduct precludes the employee from performing the job in an effective and efficient manner.

FACTS: The claimant was the only sales representative for the employer, a food service company. The claimant called on prospective clients for vending machine and cafeteria food service. The employer excluded the claimant from information concerning changes in the business and changes in clientele. The event causing the claimant to leave concerned a tour of the employer’s plant for a prospective client. On the day of the tour, the claimant’s manager informed her the employer would no longer prepare its own food. The claimant felt the proposal she wrote for the prospective client, which stated the employer prepared the food, and which was submitted to her manager a week before the tour, was a sham, and the decision not to inform her about the change an insult to her credibility.

DECISION: The claimant is not disqualified for benefits.

RATIONALE: The court looked at the cumulative effect of the employment environment to which the claimant testified. “Specifically, the court finds compelling the Appellant’s testimony about the hostile attitude of her superiors, the changes in her working conditions, the lack of support from her immediate supervisor, including the failure to keep the Appellant apprised of changes in the company’s products which she was supposed to be selling, and finally the major change in the operation of the business that precipitated the Appellant’s quitting . . . .” The court does not believe that a reasonable person should be required to lie or otherwise dissemble to prospective clients as a condition of employment. The claimant’s supervisor testified at the hearing and stated “he did not believe it was necessary to inform the Appellant of a major change in the business operations,” despite the fact he knew she was making a presentation. The court also concluded that the claimant did not have to follow any complaint process pursuant to Johnides v St Lawrence Hospital, 184 Mich App 172 (1990).

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