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13. Refusal of Work

Gilliam v. Chrysler Corp. – 13.03

Gilliam v. Chrysler Corp.
Digest No. 13.03
Section 421.29(1)(d) & 421.29(6)

Cite as: Gilliam v. Chrysler Corp., 72 Mich. App. 538, 250 N.W.2d 123 (1976)
Court: Court of Appeals of Michigan
Appeal pending: No
Claimants: James Gilliam and William Lake
Employer: Chrysler Corporation
Date of decision: December 2, 1976

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HOLDING: In determining suitability of a work, the distance factor should be considered based not solely on mileage, but also the statutory factors of each individual case, such as the age and health of the employee, the hours of travel, traffic conditions, the availability and reliability of transportation, the prospects for securing local work, and other factors under MCLA § 421.29(6).

FACTS: Defendant employer appealed a judgment of the Monroe County Circuit Court, which found that plaintiff employees were eligible for unemployment benefits and reversed the decisions of the Employment Security Appeal Board that had denied benefits to each employee. Both employees had been laid off and were offered interviews to work at plants located approximately 40 miles from their homes. One employee turned around before reaching the interview because it was too far of a distance. The other employee refused the offer of employment because his vehicle was not apt for the commute. The employees would also have lost their recall rights to return to local work at the plants near their residences. The Appeal Board held that the employees did not establish good cause to refuse the “available suitable work” under § 421.29 of the Michigan Employment Security Act (MESA), and thus, were ineligible for continued unemployment benefits. The circuit court reversed.

DECISION: The court affirmed the circuit court’s judgment.

RATIONALE: Although it may be that loss of recall rights is not good cause by itself for refusing suitable work, Losada v Chrysler Corp, 24 Mich App 656; 180 NW2d 844 (1970), it is, nevertheless, a fact which, like many other facts, may have bearing upon one or more of the § 29(6) factors for determining suitability in the first instance. Offered employment which is otherwise suitable may be unsuitable if it jeopardizes good prospects for recall to local work in an individual’s customary occupation. Furthermore, loss of recall may have a bearing on the distance factor, because the harshness of an individual travel for work depends on whether it is a temporary or permanent requirement.

Digest author: Toni Suh, Michigan Law, Class of 2020
Digest updated: January 29, 2021