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13. Refusal of Work

Lasher v Mueller Brass Co – 13.18

Lasher v Mueller Brass Co
Digest No. 13.18
Section 421.29(1)(e)

Cite as: Lasher v. Mueller Brass Co., 62 Mich. App. 171, 233 N.W.2d 513 (1975)


Court: Court of Appeals of Michigan
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Lasher
Employer: Mueller Brass Co.
Date of decision: June 23, 1975

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HOLDING: The determination of the suitability of the work offered must be made in the context of the time at which the offer was made. The court must first determine whether the new position offered is suitable before determining whether claimant had good cause to reject the position.

FACTS: Appellant claimant challenged an order of the St. Clair County Circuit Court (Michigan), which affirmed an appeal board’s denial of unemployment benefits in favor of appellee employer. The claimant was laid-off from a position as a “center list grinder, set-up service and operator,” which paid $3.54 per hour. During this lay-off, he was offered a job as a janitor, which paid a lower wage. He declined such offer. Later, he wrote a letter to the employer stating that he would take any work available. On such facts, the appeal board deemed the claimant disqualified for unemployment benefits under MCL § 421.29(1)(e) in that he failed without good cause to accept suitable work when offered him. Specifically, on the basis of the written letter, the appeal board deemed the janitorial job offered to be “suitable.” However, the court held that the plain meaning of the statute required the determination as to whether the work offered was suitable to be confined to the time at which the offer was made. As such, reliance on the claimant’s later letter was erroneous. Further, the court iterated that the reversal was not based on a question of fact but on one of law, as the appeal board applied an improper standard in determining suitability. On remand, the appeal board was instructed to first determine if the work offered was suitable and then to determine the question of good cause, if necessary.

DECISION: The court reversed the circuit court’s judgment and remanded the matter to the appeal board.

RATIONALE: The board must necessarily first determine the suitability of the work before addressing the question of whether claimant had good cause. The latter will not be necessary if the new position is not deemed suitable.

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

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13. Refusal of Work

Chrysler Corp v Devine – 13.04

Chrysler Corp v Devine
Digest No. 13.04
Section 421.29(1)(d)

Cite as: Chrysler Corp. v. De Vine, 92 Mich. App. 555, 285 N.W.2d 373 (1979)

Court: Court of Appeals of Michigan
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Kevin DeVine
Employer: Chrysler Corporation
Date of decision: September 20, 1979

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HOLDING: Given the good faith of the claimant, actual non-receipt of the notice constituted good cause for his nonattendance under MCLA § 421.29(1)(d).

FACTS: Plaintiff employer appealed the decision by a Michigan circuit court, which affirmed the decision of the Michigan Employment Security Appeal Board that defendant employee was not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Claimant was laid off from employer’s plant and applied for benefits. His unemployment claim form listed his address as that of his parents, although he was living in an apartment away from home. Claimant failed to appear for the requested interview because he did not receive the message regarding the telegram until well after the date of the interview. The employer claimed that the claimant’s non-receipt of actual notice sent by the employer had not constituted good cause for the claimant to fail to report to an interview.

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

RATIONALE: In order for good cause to be present for the failure to attend, the reason must be substantial, significant, and reasonable. See Keith v Chrysler Corp, 390 Mich 458, 475; 213 NW2d 147 (1973). The employer’s claim of an agency theory that reasonable notice to the mother constituted notice to the employee was rejected because the court determined that the Legislature did not intend general principles of agency to apply to the case at bar. The court emphasized the employee’s good faith in the matter, because he was at all times ready and willing to go back to work. Therefore, actual non-receipt of the notice constituted good cause for his nonattendance of the offered interview.

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

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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

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13. Refusal of Work

Dueweke v Morang Drive Greenhouses – 13.02

Dueweke v Morang Drive Greenhouses
Digest No. 13.02
Section 421.29(1)(a), 421.29(1)(e), & 421.29(6)

Cite as: Dueweke v. Morang Drive Greenhouses, 411 Mich. 670, 311 N.W.2d 712 (1981)
Court: Supreme Court of Michigan
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Eric Dueweke
Employer: Morang Drive Greenhouses
Date of decision: November 2, 1981.

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HOLDING: The court held that an offer of work involving conditions that were illegal rendered the work unsuitable. The court held that once the employee was disqualified and then re-qualified, the employee was not automatically disqualified for refusing to return to the same work.


FACTS: The employee quit his job with the employer and then filed a claim for unemployment benefits. The Michigan Employment Security Commission (“MESC”) denied the claim and imposed a disqualification under § 421.29 of the Michigan Employment Security Act (“MESA”), finding that the employee left his job without good cause. The employee served a six-week requalification period and then refiled his claim for benefits. When the employee returned to the employer, the employee was offered a job, but the employee refused contending that the overtime payment procedure violated the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 207(a)(1).

Plaintiff employee appealed a decision from the Michigan appellate court reversing a decision awarding him unemployment benefits on the grounds that he was disqualified under § 29(1)(e) of the MESA. The employee’s action was initiated against defendant, MESC.

DECISION: The court reversed the decision denying the employee’s claim for unemployment benefits and remanded for further proceedings.

RATIONALE: The court found that MESC failed to consider whether the offered job was suitable under § 29(6) of the MESA.

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

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13. Refusal of Work

Keith v. Chrysler Corp. – 13.01

Keith v. Chrysler Corp.
Digest No. 13.01
Section 421.29(1)

Cite as: Keith v. Chrysler Corp, 390 Mich. 458, 213 N.W.2d 147 (1973)
Court: Supreme Court of Michigan
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: John Keith
Employer: Chrysler Corporation
Date of decision: December 18, 1973

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HOLDING: On appeal, the court held that the employee was provided a reasonable time to report for the interview because the employer waited two and one-half months to file a notice of possible disqualification.

FACTS: The employee was hired by defendant employer to work at a certain location. He was laid off for lack of available work. The employer notified the employee of an interview for work at a different location, but the employee did not go. The appeal board disqualified the employee from receiving unemployment benefits for failure to comply with the requirements of § 29(1)(d) of the MESA, by failing, without good cause, to report to his employer for the interview. The appeals court upheld the appeal board’s decision.

DECISION: The court affirmed the appeals court’s decision to uphold the appeal board’s denial of unemployment benefits to the employee.
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RATIONALE: The employee showed no good cause for his failure where the interview was a reasonable distance from his residence and the time was flexible. His dislike for the potential work and desire to maintain status at the first plant did not constitute good cause.

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

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13. Refusal of Work

Zielinski v Bay City Public Schools – 13.05

Zielinski v Bay City Public Schools

Digest No. 13.05

Cite as: Zielinski v Bay City Public Schools, unpublished opinion of the State of Michigan Employment Security Board of Review, issued October 30, 1980 (Docket No.: B79-00344- 66220).

Court: State of Michigan Employment Security Board of Review Appeal

Pending: No

Claimant: Karen Zielinski

Employer: Bay City Public Schools

Date of decision: October 30, 1980

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HOLDING: The statute does not require that the offer of work be full time, only that it be suitable work. Therefore, the work offered need not be full time but may be part time work if the claimant had previously done that same type of work in a part time category.

FACTS: The claimant was certified by the State of Michigan as an elementary school teacher, and offered the job by the employer. The claimant refused based on pay differential and the fact that the job offered was not full time. The claimant had performed the same type of work a couple years for the same employer before she refused the part-time job offer from the employer in this case. The claimant filed an appeal from a redetermination issued by the Commission which held the claimant disqualified for benefits under Section 29(l)(e) of the Act, because claimant failed without good cause to accept suitable work.

DECISION: The Employment Security Board of Review affirmed the decision of the referee and refused the application for rehearing.

RATIONALE: The referee found that if she had accepted to work part-time previously, she could not be heard later to argue that she should not have to accept the job because it was not full-time work. It did not matter that later the part time work that she accepted previously should become full time work because of the length of time that the claimant had worked. It would be similarly so should she have accepted this position. It might have blossomed into full time tenured teacher work if she had performed her work for fifty or more days. The claimant was guaranteed at least six week’s work at the time of the job offer, which was deemed to be suitable work.
Digest author: Toni Suh, Michigan Law, Class of 2020
Digest updated: January 28, 2021

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13. Refusal of Work

Eyre v. Saginaw Correctional Facility – 13.29

Eyre v. Saginaw Correctional Facility
Digest No. 13.29

Section 421.29(1)(e)

Cite as: Eyre v Saginaw Correctional Facility, 274 Mich App 382 (2007).

Appeal pending: No
Court: Michigan Court of Appeals
Date of decision: February 27, 2007

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HOLDING: “The employer initially bears the burden of establishing that a suitable offer of work had been made, but, once the employer has met this burden, it shifts to the claimant to establish that there was good cause for refusal.”

FACTS: Claimant was laid off by her employer, Saginaw Correctional Facility. Later, Standish Maximum Correctional Facility offered her a similar position. She did not accept this offer, however, due to health concerns and the longer commuting distance. The Department of Labor initially approved her benefits, concluding that her refusal of the offer had good cause. After the employer’s objection, the Department of Labor reversed its conclusion, finding that she had turned down suitable employment without good cause. The hearing referee, the review board, and the circuit court each upheld this determination. Claimant then appealed to the Fourth District Court of Appeals  of Michigan.

DECISION: The Circuit Court decision is reversed and the case is remanded to the hearing referee for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

RATIONALE: The provision that establishes the disqualification for refusing a suitable offer of employment without good cause, MCL 421.29(1)(e), does not establish which party should bear the burden of proof in a dispute under that rule. The court also hadn’t established binding precedent on the matter. In prior cases, however, the court dealt with the issue of disqualification more generally. Lasher v. Mueller Brass Co. held that the burden of proving disqualification fell on the employer, while Tomei v. General Motors Corp. held that this burden doesn’t always fall on the employer. The guiding principle in these cases on who should have the burden of proof is “which party is better able to provide the information needed to answer the relevant inquiries”.

The court drew from its reasoning in Tomei, which involved a plant closure and an offer to continue working at a different facility. Tomei held that the initial burden should fall on the employer to demonstrate that it had communicated a viable offer of reasonable employment, but that if an employer met this burden, it switched to the claimant to show that the decision to leave work was not voluntary. Likewise, in the present case, the court found that the initial burden should rest on the employer to show that a suitable offer of employment had been made. As above, if the employer carries this burden, the claimant must then show that her refusal was supported by good cause. The court reasoned that the employer is in better position to determine whether the employee can discharge the responsibilities of the new position, whereas the claimant will inevitably have a better understanding of personal circumstances that would provide a good cause reason to turn down an offer.

Digest author: James Fahringer, Michigan Law, Class of 2018
Digest updated: 3/27/2016

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13. Refusal of Work

Gent v. Pride Ambulance Co. – 12.139

Gent v. Pride Ambulance Co.
Digest No. 12.139

Section 421.29(1)(b)

Cite as: Gent v Pride Ambulance Co, unpublished per curiam opinion of the Michigan Court of Appeals, issued January 12, 2006 (Docket No. 252912).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Sheri L. Gent
Employer: Pride Ambulance Company
Date of decision: January 12, 2006

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HOLDING: Claimant was eligible for benefits when she was discharged from her employment for her refusal to work because claimant’s refusal to work was based on her conscientious observance of the Sabbath.

FACTS: Claimant was employed as a paramedic by Pride Ambulance. In September 2002, claimant informed her employer that she could no longer work on Saturdays because that was her Sabbath day. Claimant was a Seventh Day Adventist. Claimant had regularly worked Saturdays but decided to discontinue the practice, and arrangements were made to accommodate her after Saturday, October 5, 2002. Pride found a replacement worker for September 28, but not for October 5. When claimant informed Pride that she would not come into work on October 5, Pride informed her that such an action would be considered job abandonment. Claimant did not come to work on Saturday, October 5, and she turned in her uniform the following Monday.

DECISION: Affirming the Circuit Court, but on different grounds, the Court of Appeals held that regardless of the existence and application of general rules protecting the free exercise of religion, the clear language of the applicable employment security rules supports an award of unemployment benefits.

RATIONALE: The court relied on a Michigan Employment Security Commission rule, promulgated to implement section 29 of the MES Act. 1985 MR 6, R 421.209 stated: “An individual who refuses to work on the Sabbath designated by his or her religion, or who is discharged from work or voluntarily leaves work, solely because of the conscientious observance of the Sabbath…shall not…be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.” Pride offered no justification for their failure to follow the established rule for resolving this benefits dispute. The court considered analyzing any First Amendment issues as unnecessary because the claimant is eligible for unemployment benefits based on the plain language of the employment security rule. Therefore, the constitutional question need not be addressed.

Digest Author: Adam Kleven, Michigan Law, Class of 2018
Digest Updated: 1/6/2016

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13. Refusal of Work

UIA v. JDM & Associates v. Yordy – 13.28

UIA v. JDM & Associates v Yordy
Digest No. 13.28

Section 421.29(1)(e)

Cite as: JDM & Assoc v Yordy, Muskegon County Circuit Court, issued August 30, 2005 (Docket No. 05-43773-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Sara B. Yordy
Employer: JDM & Associates
Docket no.: 176914W
Date of decision: August 30, 2005

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HOLDING: The Board’s decision to grant Yordy unemployment benefits was contrary to law. Yordy was not eligible for unemployment benefits because she failed without good cause to accept alternative suitable work offered to her by JDM.

FACTS: JDM & Associates had placed Yordy as an employee doing industrial work  at Hillite International from August 2002 to June 2003. When that job ended, JDM offered her other full-time employment doing industrial work at Whitehall Products on July 15, 2003. Yordy refused this offer because she wanted to work the second shift and the job was for the first shift. JDM gave her several other job offers which she also declined because of her desire to work second shift.

DECISION: The circuit court reversed the Board’s decision, which had found the claimant was not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits under Section 29(1)(e).

RATIONALE: The purpose of the Act is to provide benefits to workers who are involuntarily unemployed. If the Board’s decision that Yordy was eligible for benefits were to stand, it would allow employees who were offered suitable work to turn it down and still receive benefits. Alternatively, the Board would have to preemptively decide what constitutes suitable work each time an employer offered a substitute job, which the legislature could not have intended.

Digest Author: Alisa Hand, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest Updated: 3/1/2016

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13. Refusal of Work

Dombeck v. Special Mold Engineering, Inc. – 13.26

Dombeck v. Special Mold Engineering, Inc.
Digest No. 13.26

Section 421.29(1)(e)

Cite as: Dombeck v Special Mold Engineering, Inc, unpublished opinion of the Maycomb County Circuit Court, issued April 14, 2005 (Docket No. 2005-000 1-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Max T. Dombeck
Employer: Special Mold Engineering, Inc.
Docket no.: 2005-000 1-AE
Date of decision: April 14, 2005

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HOLDING: When a claimant is offered the same position with identical pay, benefits, and work hours from an employer he previously worked for 7 months prior, after being laid off from his most recent employer, that offered position constitutes an offer of suitable employment. Further, not having adequate time to pursue alternate job options does not constitute good cause for refusal of suitable employment.

FACTS: Claimant was employed as a metal mold builder with Special Mold Engineering (SME). Claimant left SME to accept employment at another company because the new job provided day shift work, it was closer to home, it paid more money and would offer him opportunities for advancement. Claimant was laid off from employment on June 11, 2003 due to circumstances beyond his control. Claimant applied for unemployment benefits on June 12, 2003. On July 15, 2003, SME offered claimant his old job back, at the same rate of pay, with the same benefits, and with sufficient work hours. Claimant ultimately turned down the job offer because be felt “it was too soon for me to come back without being able to seek further employment with the, the new skill that I’ve learned.” Claimant was subsequently denied unemployment benefits under the refusal of suitable employment provision, MCL 421.29(1)(e)

DECISION: The MES Board’s decision was not contrary to the great weight of the evidence, finding that claimant was disqualified for unemployment benefits under MCL 421.29(1)(e).

RATIONALE: Claimant was offered suitable employment: a full-time job for which he was qualified at the same rate of pay he had been earning when he had left employment some 7 months prior, vacation pay and health benefits. Further, good cause for refusing to accept the offer of employment has not deem demonstrated. Although claimant stated he had not had enough time to find other employment, there is nothing to say that he could not have sought other employment while being employed. Claimant expressed some doubt about SME’s stability insofar as it had laid off some 20 employees and had cut hours shortly before he quit, but it is reasonable to assume that because they wanted to rehire him in July, the economic climate had changed for the better for SME, whereas, the new company had to lay off claimant due to an economic downturn, and there was no guarantee that claimant would be rehired.

Digest Author: Cydney Warburton, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest Updated: 3/27/2016