Proulx v. Horiba Subsidiary, Inc. – 18.21

Proulx v. Horiba Subsidiary, Inc.
Digest No. 18.21

Sections 421.27, 421.33(1), 421.54(b), and 421.62(a)

Cite as: Proulx v Horiba Subsidiary, Inc, unpublished opinion of the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission, issued October 1, 2014 (Docket No. 14-00680-241108).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Brian D. Proulx
Employer: Horiba Subsidiary, Inc.
Docket no.: 14-00680-241108
Date of decision: October 1, 2014

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HOLDING: Redetermination by the UIA requires fact finding in support of the agency’s decision. When the Agency merely makes a conclusory statement in support of its ruling, such a decision is procedurally deficient and will not be upheld on appeal. Secondly, when a claimant fails to appear at an appeal by the Agency, the ALJ has jurisdiction both to dismiss the proceedings and to “take other action considered advisable”. Thus, the ALJ has “broad discretion to address the matter.” Finally, the notice for the hearing, delivered to the claimant, was required to include ”the issues and penalties involved”. (This requirement has been altered by Michigan Administrative Code (MAC) Rule 792.11407. This rule requires a “short and plain statement of the issues involved”, while related rules require a 20 notice, compared to the usual 7, and a witness list and copy of all documentary evidence related to fraud.)

FACTS: After being discharged by Horiba Subsidiary, Claimant applied for and received benefits under Section 27. A rehearing, on March 28, 2014, by the Unemployment Insurance Agency accused Claimant of fraud or misrepresentation, found him ineligible for Section 27 benefits, and subject to restitution under Section 62(a). A separate rehearing on the same day assessed penalties under Section 54(b). Claimant then failed to appear at an ALJ hearing of this matter on July 10, 2014. The notice of this hearing provided to Claimant read “SECTION 27(c) & 48 – WHETHER OR NOT CLAIMANT IS ELIGIBLE FOR BENEFITS UNDER THE REMUNERATION, EARNINGS OFFSET PROVISION. CLAIMANT MUST PAY RESTITUTION/DAMAGES TO AGENCY UNDER SECTION 54(b)-INTENTIONAL MISREPRESENTATION. SECTIONS THAT MAY APPLY ARE: 62(a), 62(b), 20(a).” This notice did not include the penalties involved as required by the Michigan Administrative Code (MAC) Rule 421.1110(1). (Note that this rule has since been superseded and altered by Rule 792.11407.)

Because of Claimant’s failure to appear, the ALJ dismissed Claimant’s appeal of the Section 27, and Section 62(a) rehearings, but remanded the Section 54(b) rehearing to the Agency because their accusations in that rehearing were merely conclusory and didn’t provide supporting fact-finding. The Unemployment Insurance Agency appealed this remand decision to the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission, and the Commission reviewed both of the orders of the ALJ.

DECISION: The ALJ’s dismissal of Claimant’s appeal is set aside and remanded for a full hearing. The ALJ’s remand of the Agency’s 54(b) ruling is affirmed.

RATIONALE: An ALJ does not lack jurisdiction over an appealed UIA hearing simply because the appellant failed to appear at the appeal. Section 33(1) provides that “If the appellant fails to appear or prosecute the appeal, the administrative law judge may dismiss the proceedings or take other action considered advisable.” Since the ALJ may “take other action considered advisable”, a dismissal based on the appellant’s failure to appear is an error of law. A second reason for setting aside the ALJ’s dismissal of the appeal is the insufficiency of the notice provided to Claimant. Michigan Administrative Code (MAC) Rule 431.1110(1) required the notice to include a description of the penalties involved. Since the notice form provided to Claimant lacked this information, it was not sufficient and his failure to appear can’t be held against him.

Secondly, and Agency determination of fraud or misrepresentation on the part of a claimant can’t be sustained without fact-finding on the record to back up that determination. Merely supplying conclusory statements as to Claimant’s alleged fraud does not meet this burden. Therefore, when the Agency fails to provide appropriate factual backing for its findings, it must reconsider its determination.

Digest author: James Fahringer, Michigan Law, Class of 2018
Digest updated: 3/30/2016

 

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