Hodge v. US Security Associates, Inc. – 16.91

Hodge v. US Security Associates, Inc.
Digest No. 16.91

Section 421.29; Section 421.38

Cite as: Hodge v US Security Associates, Inc., unpublished opinion of the Mich. Sup. Ct., issued February 6, 2015 (Docket No. 149984).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Carnice Hodge
Employer: U.S. Security Associates, Inc.
Date of decision: February 6, 2015

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HOLDING: A reviewing court is not at liberty to substitute its own judgment for a decision of MCAC that is supported with substantial evidence.

FACTS: Claimant was a security guard at an airport. Claimant was fired for accessing publicly available flight departure information on a computer at the request of a traveler in violation of the employer’s policy regarding the unauthorized use of computer equipment. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) disqualified claimant from unemployment benefits for committing misconduct under Section 421.29. The Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission (MCAC) affirmed, holding that the decision was made in conformity with the facts as developed at the hearing and properly applied the law to the facts. The Wayne Circuit Court reversed, concluding that claimant’s conduct did not warrant a denial of benefits because claimant was violating the employer’s policy in order to help a customer, and the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the Wayne Circuit Court’s reversal.

DECISION: The Court of Appeals judgment is reversed and the MCAC judgment is reinstated.

RATIONALE: The Wayne Circuit Court and the Court of Appeals applied an incorrect standard of review by substituting their own assessment of the relative severity of claimant’s violation of her employer’s rules for the assessment of MCAC. A reviewing court is not at liberty to substitute its own judgment for a decision of MCAC that is supported with substantial evidence. A circuit court must affirm a decision of the ALJ and MCAC if it conforms to law and if competent, material, and substantial evidence supports it. The ALJ was the only adjudicator who actually heard testimony and observed the demeanor of the witnesses while testifying, reviewed all the evidence in the record, and made findings of fact based on credibility of witnesses and weight of the evidence. MCAC’s assessment of claimant’s conduct was made within the correct legal framework and was therefore authorized by law and not contrary to law, so the courts below improperly reweighed the evidence in order to reach a different assessment in violation of Section 421.38 and Const. 1963, art 6, § 28.

Digest author: Winnie Chen, Michigan Law, Class of 2017

Digest updated: 11/19/2017

Winstead v MESC – 7.12

Winstead v MESC
Digest no. 7.12

Section 28(1)(c)

Cite as: Winstead v MESC, unpublished opinion of the Washtenaw County Circuit Court, issued February 19, 1980 (Docket No. 79 17067 AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Mary Winstead
Employer: N/A
Docket no.: B76 18265 57846, et al.
Date of decision: February 19, 1980

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: Insistence on time off to attend Wednesday night church services does not make a claimant unavailable for work.

FACTS: “In each of these decisions, the Board of Review affirmed decisions of referees which had held, in effect, that Ms. Winstead had not been ‘available to perform suitable full-time work’ within the meaning of the statute by reason of her insistence on attending Wednesday night worship services held by her church.”

DECISION: The claimant is available for work.

RATIONALE: “The MESC decisions below do not square with Sherbert v Vernor, 374 U.S. 398 (1963), and therefore are violative of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The decisions are also contrary to Swenson v MESC, 340 Mich 430 (1954), where the Michigan Supreme Court held that Seventh Day Adventists who could not work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday were ‘available for work’ within the meaning of the statute. The decisions are thus contrary to the law of this state as well as the Constitution of the United States.”

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