12. Misconduct

Phillips-Johnson, Inc v Galilei – 12.148

Phillips-Johnson, Inc v Galilei
Digest no. 12.148

Section 29(1)(b)

Cite as: Phillips-Johnson v Galilei, unpublished opinion of the Michigan Court of Appeals, issued May 11, 2010 (Docket No. 291174).

Appeal Pending: No
Claimant: Cynthia Galilei
Employer: Phillips-Johnson, Inc.
Docket no.: 08-000341-AA
Date of decision: May 11, 2010

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HOLDING: Claimant’s failure to appear to work one day did not constitute misconduct when her absence was due to a circumstance outside of her control, timely notice was given to her employer, she was not warned that she would be discharged if she did not attend work, and she was able to have another individual cover her shift. As Claimant did not commit misconduct, Claimant’s is not disqualified from benefits after being involuntarily discharged.

FACTS: Claimant worked as the sole employee of an insurance office and was discharged after she did not appear for work on November 3, 2006. Claimant gave her employer two months’ notice that she had a court date for her divorce proceeding, but Employer did not allow Claimant to take the day off. Claimant did not attend work that day. Employer did not warn her that if she missed that day she would be terminated. Claimant made arrangements for someone to cover for her and called in after her court appointment to make sure somebody was doing so.

Claimant was denied benefits by the UIA which was upheld by the ALJ. The Board of Review reversed the finding of the ALJ and stated that Claimant’s absence to appear in court was beyond her control. The employer appealed to the Circuit Court which reversed, in part, the Board of Review’s decision. The Circuit Court found that while the evidence showed that Claimant was not given permission to take the day off, her failure to attend work did not constitute misconduct, as she did have sufficient reason to miss work, was not given notice that her job was at risk if she did not come in, and found another employee to cover her position for the day. The employer appealed to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

DECISION: The Court affirmed the decision of the Circuit Court by finding that Claimant’s conduct did not constitute misconduct under 29(1)(b) of the MES Act and Carter v MESC, 364 Mich 538 (1961).

RATIONALE: The Court found that the Claimant had not committed misconduct because: “she was only absent for one day, she timely sought permission, the reason for her absence was not frivolous, she was not advised that the infraction would be viewed as warranting dismissal, and arrangement were apparently made in advance for coverage of the office.” Thus, although her absence was “unsatisfactory conduct”, pursuant to Carter, it did not rise to the level of misconduct sufficient to disqualify her from receiving benefits.

Digest Author:  S. Pandya
Digest Updated: 8/14