10. Voluntary Leaving

Harris v Suburban Employees Services – 10.118

Harris v Suburban Employees Services
Digest no. 10.118

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Harris v Suburban Employee Services, Unpublished Opinion of the Wayne County Circuit Court, Issued March 14, 2011 (Docket No. 10-008620-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Shannon S. Harris
Employer: Suburban Employees Services, LLC
Docket no.: 10-008620-AE
Date of decision: March 14, 2011

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HOLDING: Claimant left employment voluntarily with good cause attributable to his employer, and is therefore not disqualified from benefits.

FACTS: Claimant worked as a porter at a car dealership for Employer from 2003 to 2009. During that time period, he was repeatedly harassed based on his race, weight, and sexual orientation. Despite multiple instances of harassment that Claimant cited, his request for unemployment benefits was denied. Upon review, the ALJ found Claimant to be more credible and that Claimant was not disqualified from benefits. However, Employer appealed, and the Board of Review found that claimant was disqualified from benefits. Claimant appealed regarding the issue of whether Claimant left work voluntarily with good cause attributable to his employer.

DECISION: The Circuit Court reversed the Board of Review, finding Claimant not disqualified from benefits as he voluntarily left work with good cause attributable to his employer.

RATIONALE: “The evidence in this case supports a finding that the employer’s actions in this case would cause a reasonable, average, or otherwise qualified worker to give up his employment just as the ALJ found.” The Board of Review’s decision is not supported by competent, material and substantial evidence on the record.

For example, the Board of Review ruled that Claimant was not discriminated against because other African-American porters had been promoted, but it did not provide proof that this was true. The Board of Review also ignored the harassment that Claimant experienced regarding his race and sexual orientation. Further, the Board of Review improperly ignored the ALJ’s credibility determinations, relying instead on the fact that Claimant had not listed discrimination as the reason he left the company, but the ALJ had determined that this was because Claimant wanted to be able to get good references. Finally, the Board of Review placed too much weight on the amount of time that had passed between the incidents and when the Claimant left his employment, while the Circuit Court found that these incidents had continued until the end of Claimant’s employment.

Digest Author: Nick Phillips
Digest Editor: Jack Battaglia
Digest Updated: 8/14