Categories
07. Eligibility - Able & Available

Swenson v MESC – 7.05

Swenson v MESC
Digest no. 7.05

Section 28(1)(c)

Cite as: Swenson v MESC, 340 Mich 430 (1954).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Bessie Swenson
Employer: Battle Creek Food Company
Docket no.: B1 1131 13361
Date of decision: September 8, 1954

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SUPREME COURT HOLDING: Claimants are not unavailable for benefits because they cannot work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

FACTS: Claimants, packers for Battle Creek Food Company, were laid off due to lack of work. The Commission denied benefits to Claimants, Seventh Day Adventists, on the basis that they were unavailable for work, since their religion forbid them from working from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Claimants had not been offered any employment, and therefore had never refused any.

DECISION: Claimants are eligible for benefits under the availability provision of the MES Act.

RATIONALE: The Supreme Court adopted the reasoning of the trial judge, stating that:

“To exclude such persons would be arbitrary discrimination when there is no sound foundation, in fact, for the distinction, and the purposes of and theory of the act are not thereby served. Seventh Day Adventists, as a matter of fact, do not remove themselves from the labor market by stopping work on sundown Friday and not resuming work until sundown Saturday, as is apparent from the reason that employers do hire them.”

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

Categories
17. Employee Status

Nordman v Calhoun – 17.10

Nordman v Calhoun
Digest no. 17.10

Section 42

Cite as: Nordman v Calhoun, 332 Mich 460 (1952).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Ardath Calhoun
Employer: Charles E. Nordman d/b/a Top Notch Soda Bar
Docket no.: BO 2905 12445
Date of decision: March 6, 1952

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SUPREME COURT HOLDING: Mr. Date Scofield was an employee under the Section 42 definition of employment – service performed for remuneration or under an oral or written contract for hire.

FACTS: Mr. Scofield, a retired postal employee provided janitorial services to employer’s predecessor for $10/week. When the employer took over, Mr. Scofield continued performing the same duties at the same salary. Employer required him to finish his work by 10 a.m. when the business was open. He worked 6 days/week for approximately 1.5 hours each day.

Mr. Scofield also worked at a hardware store 2-3 times/year installing and removing screens and storm windows, and he also performed similar jobs for others. For such work he charged by the hour. Mr. Scofield could quit at any time. Employer laid him off in October, 1949.

DECISION: Mr. Scofield was an employee pursuant to Section 42. As a result of that finding, the employer was determined to be a liable employer under the then applicable criteria in the Act. Consequently the claimant, Ms. Calhoun, was able to pursue her claim for benefits against the employer.

RATIONALE: “The only issue in the case at bar is to determine whether Date Scofield was an employee or an independent contractor. In the case at bar Date Scofield was hired for an indefinite period and could have severed his employment at any time. Moreover, his employer could have discharged him at any time, with or without cause. The fact that the employer did not find it necessary to exercise any detailed supervision over the performance of the employee’s duties is not determinative of the employer-employee relationship, nor does the fact that Date Scofield was a part-time employee bring him within the exception found in the act. In view of the fact that the services performed by Date Scofield are undisputed, we hold as a matter of law that he was an employee… .”

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated: 
12/91

Categories
16. Procedures/Appeals

Ashford v Unemployment Comp. Commission – 7.24

Ashford v Unemployment Comp. Commission
Digest no. 7.24

Sections 28(1)(c), 33

Cite as: Ashford v Unemployment Compensation Commission, 328 Mich 428 (1950).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Violet Ashford
Employer: Kelsey Hayes
Date of decision: Sept. 11, 1950

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SUPREME COURT HOLDING: The introduction into evidence of the file materials for a claim for unemployment benefits does not, by itself, operate to prove the claim. The burden of proof is on the party asserting the affirmative of the issue involved.

FACTS: Claimant filed for unemployment benefits and the Commission determined she was entitled. The employer appealed to the Referee. The claimant appeared in person, the employer by counsel. Claimant’s file materials were made part of the record over employer’s objections. Employer requested the claimant be questioned as to her eligibility. “[T]he Referee held that, because claimant was not represented by counsel, she might not be permitted to testify unless the employer called her for cross examination under the statute and agreed that her testimony should become the employer’s testimony, binding upon the latter.”

Employer contended claimant had the burden to establish her claim, even if the employer did not offer any evidence in opposition. The Referee held a prima facie case was established by entering claimant’s file into the record, and that the employer, by failing to offer evidence in opposition, had failed to prosecute its appeal, which was dismissed.

DECISION: Dismissal for lack of prosecution was error. Remanded for hearing on the merits.

RATIONALE: “The statute does not provide … a rule that in cases of employer appeals to referee the employer shall be held to have failed to prosecute its appeal unless it assumes the burden of the evidence and proceeds at the very outset to offer proofs in opposition to … the claimant…. [T]he employer was present by counsel who stated its position on the law, … and objected to the referee’s ruling that plaintiff might testify only as employer’s witness. In so doing, the employer did prosecute its appeal.”

“Introduction of that claim … into evidence did not operate to establish it. The claim does not prove itself…. [T]he obligation of the claimants is to establish the truth of their claims by a preponderance of the evidence.”

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated: 6/91

Categories
04. Total or Partial Unemployment

Renown Stove Co v UCC – 4.21

Renown Stove Co v UCC
Digest no. 4.21

Section 48

Cite as: Renown Stove Co v UCC, 328 Mich 436 (1950).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: George Sheldon, et al.
Employer: Renown Stove Company
Docket no.: B8 5900 1 9580
Date of decision: September 11, 1950

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MICHIGAN SUPREME COURT HOLDING: Where the option to receive vacation with pay or payment in lieu of vacation rests with the employee, a payment received during a period of unemployment will be deemed a bonus rather than vacation pay.

FACTS: One group of employees worked under a contract which provided for vacation pay and specified the vacation period from July 5 to July 18, 1948. There was no option for payment in lieu of vacation. The second group’s contract also provided for vacation pay but their vacation period was not specified and these claimants had the right to receive pay in lieu of vacation. Both groups of employees were laid off for lack of work in April, 1948 and filed for and began receiving unemployment benefits. On June 28, 1948, they received checks equal to either 1 or 2 weeks of wages. The employer contested the payment of benefits for the period following July 5, 1948 asserting that the workers had vacation pay for the same period.

DECISION: The claimants covered by the first agreement received vacation pay and are not entitled to receive unemployment benefits for the same period. Those covered by the second agreement received a bonus and not vacation pay and are entitled to receive benefits with respect to the period beginning July 5 during which they did not work.

RATIONALE: The controlling question is whether the employer paid the employees for or with respect to the 1 or 2 week period beginning July 5. The first agreement specified that the period from July 5 to July 18 was a vacation period and those claimants were not entitled to the June 28 payment for any other reason. But, the claimants who worked under the second agreement had the option to take a vacation with pay or work, and in addition to wages for such work, receive a bonus in lieu of the vacation with pay. Since the option rested with the employees, the June 28 payment was a bonus and not vacation pay.

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated:
12/91

Categories
04. Total or Partial Unemployment

Phillips v UCC – 4.04

Phillips v UCC
Digest no. 4.04

Section 48

Cite as: Phillips v UCC, 323 Mich 188 (1948).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Pleasant I. Phillips
Employer: Winters and Crampton Corporation
Docket no.: B7 15029 8250
Date of decision: December 17, 1948

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SUPREME COURT HOLDING: (1) The claimant has the burden of proof as to eligibility. (2) An attorney who practices law 8 to 12 hours per day is not unemployed. (3) Compensation earned, not compensation received, is the test of remuneration.

FACTS: The claimant, an attorney, began practicing law in 1900.He performed factory work ” … from August 12, 1944, until October 6, 1947, when he was laid off due to lack of work. He continued in the practice of law, maintaining a law office in which he spent from 8 to 12 hours per day.” The receipts from the law office were $31.00 in the 7 weeks following the claimant’s layoff.

DECISION: The claimant is not unemployed.

RATIONALE: “We believe that the words ‘unemployed individual’ are used in [Section] 28 in their ordinarily accepted sense and that, taken in that light, one who is engaged in rendering service for remuneration or who devotes his time to the practice of a profession by which a living is customarily earned cannot be said to be unemployed.”

“Remuneration earned, not remuneration received, is the test under this section. Efforts expended in those weeks may well have earned fees paid at a subsequent date, a thing not at all unusual in a law practice.”

“The burden was on plaintiff to prove his eligibility under [Section] 48. Dwyer v Unemployment Compensation Commission, 321 Mich 178. From the record it does not appear that he sustained that burden.”

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

Categories
07. Eligibility - Able & Available

Dwyer v UCC – 7.04

Dwyer v UCC
Digest no. 7.04

Section 28(1)(c)

Cite as: Dwyer v UCC, 321 Mich 178 (1948).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: John Dwyer
Employer: Packard Motor Car Co.
Docket no.: B6 18326 5058
Date of decision: May 18, 1948

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SUPREME COURT HOLDING: (1) The claimant has the burden of proof as to eligibility. (2) A person who is genuinely attached to the labor market will make a reasonable attempt to find work.

FACTS: The claimant sought work only 3 or 4 times during 19 months of unemployment. He did not seek police work, which he had performed for 25 years.

DECISION: The claimant is ineligible for benefits.

RATIONALE: “(T)o prevail, the claimant must have sufficient proofs offered in his behalf to establish that he meets the conditions of eligibility. To this extent he has the burden of proof.”

“Whether or not a claimant is in fact available for work depends to a great extent upon his mental attitude, i.e., whether he wants to go to work or is content to remain idle. Indicative of such mental attitude is evidence as to efforts which the person has made in his own behalf to obtain work. A person who is genuinely attached to the labor market and desires employment will make a reasonable attempt to find work and will not wait for a job to seek him out.”

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

Categories
10. Voluntary Leaving

Copper Range Co v UCC – 10.01

Copper Range Co v UCC
Digest no. 10.01

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Copper Range Co v UCC, 320 Mich 460 (1948).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: James W. Austin, et al.
Employer: Copper Range Co.
Docket no.: B5 9204 2910
Date of decision: April 5, 1948

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SUPREME COURT HOLDING: Where employees are threatened with the loss of their jobs if they refuse a pay cut, their action in rejecting the proposal, followed by the permanent closing of the facility, does not constitute voluntary leaving.

FACTS: The market price of the employer’s product fell sharply at the end of World War II. The 539 claimants were asked to accept a reduction in their wage scale, and were told the company would not continue operations at the existing pay rates. The employees voted down the pay cut. The employer closed the facility permanently.

DECISION: The claimants are not disqualified for voluntary leaving.

RATIONALE: “(W)e are not as yet prepared to accept and apply the doctrine of constructive voluntary leaving, particularly in the light of the circumstances of the instant case.”

“To place the stamp of judicial approval upon the contentions of appellee in the instant case would be tantamount to the issuance of a notice to all employers in Michigan that, whenever they are confronted with economic loss, they can demand an abrogation of their working agreements and reduce compensation to a point unacceptable to employees, and thereby absolve themselves of the responsibilities imposed upon them by the unemployment compensation act.”

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

Categories
07. Eligibility - Able & Available

Ford Motor Co v UCC – 7.03

Ford Motor Co v UCC
Digest no. 7.03

Section 28(1)(c)

Cite as: Ford Motor Co v UCC, 316 Mich 468 (1947).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Drusilla Koski
Employer: Ford Motor Company
Docket no.: B4 3872 1751
Date of decision: January 6, 1947

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SUPREME COURT HOLDING: “There is nothing in the statute to justify the conclusion that the legislature intended a claimant might limit his employment to certain hours of the day where the work he is qualified to perform is not likewise limited.”

FACTS: A bench hand on the afternoon shift was laid off for lack of work. She limited her availability to her customary shift, because she wished to be home when her two children prepared for school each day.

DECISION: The claimant is ineligible for benefits.

RATIONALE: “It will be noted that [S.] 28(1)(c) of the statute, quoted above in part, contemplates availability for work of the character that a claimant is qualified to perform and further requires availability for full-time work. The central thought in the subdivision has reference to the character of the labor for which a claimant is available. There is nothing in the statute to justify the conclusion that the legislature intended a claimant might limit his employment to certain hours of the day where the work he is qualified to perform is not likewise limited. It may be assumed that, in a so-called ‘around-the-clock’ operation, the work on different shifts does not vary in character. When claimant stated she would not accept work except on the afternoon shift, she clearly made herself unavailable for work of the character that she was qualified to perform.”

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

Categories
01. Public Policy

Godsol d.b.a. Nu-Enamel Michigan Co v MUCC – 1.01

Godsol d.b.a. Nu-Enamel Michigan Co v MUCC
Digest no. 1.01

Section 2, 41(3)

Cite asGodsol v MUCC, 302 Mich 652 (1942).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: John T.Willcox
Employer: Arnold H. Godsol d.b.a. Nu-Enamel Michigan Co.
Docket no.: AB 4163 556
Date of decision: September 8, 1942

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APPEAL BOARD HOLDING: The definition of “employer,” under former MES Act Section 41(3), since amended, was not limited to situations where the “employer” had legally enforceable control over the employing unit. Section 41 was not violative of the equal protection provision of the Fourteenth Amendment.

FACTS: Claimant was employed by Nu-Enamel Michigan, owned by Arnold Godsol. Helen Godsol, Arnold’s wife, operated Nu-Enamel Detroit. Neither of those businesses employed eight or more employees, the then requisite number for “employer” status under the MES Act. Combined they did have more than eight employees. Nu-Enamel Detroit was a sub-distributorship of Nu-Enamel Michigan and was established solely with Mrs. Godsol’s separate funds. In operating the business Mrs. Godsol relied on her husband for advice and assistance. He frequently visited her stores, gave directions to employees, received daily business reports, hired and discharged employees. At that time Section 41(3) provided for treatment of multiple employer units as a single employer, if owned or controlled, by legally enforceable means or otherwise, directly or indirectedly, by the same interests. The MESC treated the businesses as a single employer. As a result claimant was eligible for benefits. The Godsols challenged the Commissions interpretation of the word “control” and also challenged then Section 41(3) on equal protection grounds.

DECISION: Section 41(3) is not unconstitutional. Employer is a covered employer under the Act. Claimant entitled to benefits if otherwise eligible and qualified.

RATIONALE: “The purpose of the unemployment compensation act is to relieve the distress of economic insecurity due to unemployment. It was enacted in the interest of public welfare to provide for assistance to the unemployed, and as such is entitled to a liberal interpretation.”

Digest author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest updated: 6/91

Categories
07. Eligibility - Able & Available

Woodall Industries Inc. v. Tracy – 7.38

Woodall Industries Inc. v. Tracy
Digest No. 7.38

Section 421.28

Cite as: Woodall Industries Inc. v. Tracy, unpublished opinion of the Oakland County Circuit Court, issued Sept. 17, 1941 (Docket No. 26150).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Marie Tracy
Employer: Woodall Industries, Inc.
Date of decision: September 17, 1941

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HOLDING: The requirement that a claimant be “able to work and available for work” includes the ability to procure transportation to the workplace.

FACTS: Claimant lived twenty-two miles from her place of employment.  Claimant quit voluntarily because she lost access to transportation to the place of employment.  The Claimant re-acquired transportation approximately four months later.  Claimant was denied benefits for the period of time when she was without transportation.

DECISION: As a matter of fact and law, claimant was not “able to work and available to work” during the period when she had no means of transportation.  Claimant was eligible for benefits from the time when she re-acquired transportation that allowed her to travel to her place of employment.

RATIONALE: Eligibility for benefits depends on the ability to travel to the place of employment.*

Digest Author: James Mestichelli, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest Updated: 3/27/2016

*The court used 421.28(c), but that language seems to have been amended. That is why the statutory section cited above is just 421.28.