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Cite as: Kas-Petrus v Bushings, Inc, unpublished opinion of the Macomb County Circuit Court, issued April 10, 2007 (Docket No. 2006-5196-AE).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

Hoppe v City of Warren – 16.33

Hoppe v City of Warren
Digest No. 16.33

Section 421.32a

Cite as: Hoppe v City of Warren, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued August 26, 1983 (Docket No. 67671).

Court: State of Michigan Court of Appeals
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Chester M. Hoppe
Employer: City of Warren
Date of decision: August 26, 1983

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HOLDING: Claimant failed to establish good cause for his untimely appeal of the redetermination.

FACTS: Claimant retired involuntarily as a City of Warren employee because a city ordinance required forced retirement of its employees at age 65. He applied with MESC for unemployment benefits but was deemed ineligible because the City had an equivalent unemployment compensation ordinance.  Claimant timely appealed that determination. A redetermination followed which held again that Claimant was ineligible for unemployment compensation.

DECISION: The Court held that the Claimant’s argument that he failed to timely appeal a redetermination because of a good-faith misunderstanding of agency procedures is not supported by the record. The MESC employee’s instructions to plaintiff to stop reporting was not misinformation or information that would cause an average reasonable person to file an untimely appeal. After the 20- day appeal period had passed, Claimant filed an untimely appeal for  review of the redetermination. MESC denied his request because he failed to show good cause for the untimely appeal.

Claimant timely appealed the boards denial and requested a hearing before an ALJ. At the hearing, Claimant testified that he received the notice of redetermination but failed to read the portion instructing him that he had 20 days to file an appeal. He also said he did not file a timely appeal because an agent of the MESC told him he no longer needed to report. The ALJ decided that Claimant failed to establish good cause for his untimely appeal of the redetermination.

RATIONALE: The Court was limited to the construction of the phrase “good cause” in Section 421.32a. The MESC also issued a regulation which includes guidelines for what constitutes good cause. While the Court agreed that the examples of good cause included in the guidelines are not self limiting. Additionally, they recognized that a claimant’s good-faith misunderstanding of agency procedures may be a basis for good cause for delay. Good cause for delay may also occur when a reasonable claimant relies upon misinformation or incorrect guidance given to the claimant by an MESC employee.

Claimant admitted that he failed to timely appeal because he neglected to read the notice of redetermination. The MESC employee’s instruction to stop reporting was not misinformation or information that would cause an average reasonable claimant to file an untimely appeal.

Digest author: Sara Posner, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: December 5, 2017