12. Misconduct

Broyles v Aeroquip Corp – 12.30

Broyles v Aeroquip Corp
Digest no. 12.30

Section 29(1)(b)

Cite as: Broyles v Aeroquip Corp, 176 Mich App 175 (1989).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Thomas Broyles
Employer: Aeroquip Corporation
Docket no.: B86 05457 104075
Date of decision: March 21, 1989

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: Use of vulgar or abusive language can constitute employee misconduct depending on the totality of the circumstances.

FACTS: Claimant had a verbal confrontation with a supervisor, calling him an “asshole” and a “prick.” Claimant asserted the language he used was common and considered “shop talk.”

DECISION: Claimant was disqualified under the misconduct discharge provisions of Section 29(1)(b).

RATIONALE: “In looking at the use of vulgar or abusive language, we conclude that the use of such language can constitute employee misconduct. … [W]e believe an employer has the right to expect his employees to act with a certain amount of civility towards management personnel and, for that matter, fellow employees. Of course, every use of a vulgar epithet does not necessarily constitute misconduct. Rather, the totality of the circumstances of the case must be considered …” Where words are directed at a supervisor, where the tone and content suggest an abusive intent, where the comments are made in the presence of others, where such conduct is not condoned in the work place, the use of such language violates standards of behavior that an employer can reasonably expect from employees.

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