Kas-Petrus v. Bushings, Inc. – 16.78

Kas-Petrus v. Bushings, Inc.
Digest No. 16.78

Section 421.32(a)

Cite as: Kas-Petrus v Bushings, Inc, unpublished opinion of the Macomb County Circuit Court, issued April 10, 2007 (Docket No. 2006-5196-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Muayed Kas-Petrus
Employer: Bushings, Inc.
Date of decision: April 10, 2007

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HOLDING: MCL 421.32(a) does not require fault by the Agency to demonstrate good cause for his untimely appeal. Despite this, a claimant’s failure to timely appeal a determination due to a language barrier does not constitute good cause under MCL 421.32(a) when the claimant failed to notify the Agency of his language barrier and failed to explain why his appeal was untimely.

FACTS: On December 11, 2006, the Unemployment Insurance Agency determined Claimant was disqualified from benefits under MCL 421.29(1)(b). Claimant submitted an untimely appeal for this determination on January 26, 2006.

During an ALJ hearing, Claimant testified that his primary language was Arabic and that he could not read English. Claimant lived with his son, who spoke and read fluent English. Claimant’s son read the disqualifying determination to Claimant shortly after Claimant received it. The son informed Claimant that he was denied unemployment benefits but did not inform him of his right to appeal. Two weeks later, Claimant’s sister-in-law informed Claimant of his right to appeal. Despite still having time within his 30 day appeal window, Claimant did not appeal and was unable to explain to the ALJ why his protest was untimely.

The ALJ held that Claimant did not have good cause for his untimely appeal. The ALJ emphasized that the late protest could not be attributed to the Agency because appellant failed to inform the Agency that he required language assistance. The Board of Review affirmed the ALJ’s ruling. Claimant appealed to the Macomb County Circuit Court.

DECISION: The Board of Review’s decision is affirmed because Claimant lacked good cause for his untimely appeal under MCL 421.32(a). Claimant did not have a “legitimate inability to act sooner” under Agency Rule 421.270(d) because he was unable to explain why he filed in an untimely manner. Furthermore, Claimant’s language barrier did not constitute good cause because he failed to inform the Agency of his need for language assistance.

RATIONALE: MCL 421.32(a) provides claimants 30 days to file an appeal to an Agency determination. A claimant may appeal beyond the 30 day period if the claimant has good cause for the untimely appeal. MCL 421.32(a)(2).

Under Agency Rule 421.270(d), “good cause” includes a party’s “legitimate inability to act sooner.” Claimant argued that his inability to read English constituted a legitimate inability to act sooner. Claimant also argued that good cause does not require fault by the Agency.

The Court agreed that a claimant does not need to demonstrate Agency fault to show good cause under MCL 421.32(a). However, the Court rejected Claimant’s contention that he had a legitimate inability to act sooner. Claimant was informed of his right to appeal by his sister-in-law before the 30 day appeal period expired. Despite this, Claimant failed to file a timely appeal and offered no explanation. Because the Claimant was provided notice of his right to appeal within the 30 day period and failed to demonstrate why he appealed late, Claimant lacks good cause under MCL 421.32(a).

Digest author: Sean Higgins, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: October 31, 2017