19. Federal Court Decisions & TRA

UIA v Dykstra – 19.09

UIA v Dykstra
Digest no. 19.09

Cite as: Dep’t of Labor & Econ Growth, Unemployment Ins Agency v Dykstra, 283 Mich App 212 (2009).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Tracey Dykstra
Employer: N/A
Docket no.: 05-011956-AE
Date of decision: April 07, 2009

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HOLDING: The statutory time limit set forth in Section 2291(a)(5)(A)(ii) does not apply to submission of the form requesting waiver of the TRA training requirement under Section 2291(a)(5)(A)(i).

FACTS: Claimant lost her job due to the closure of her facility caused by foreign competition. In order to receive TRA benefits, Claimant filled out and timely submitted all the forms about which she had been informed and of which she had been provided blank copies from a Michigan Works! agent. Despite doing all she had been told to do, Claimant heard nothing back from UIA. Claimant was later informed of the need to fill out Form 802 by former co-workers, after learning this she immediately filled out the proper paperwork. This form was a request for waiver of the TRA training requirement.

Unfortunately for Claimant, the deadline for applying for TRA benefits had lapsed by the time she submitted form 802, and the UIA subsequently denied her benefits. Claimant appealed and was given a positive ruling from an Administrative Law Judge, who found that the agency error of Michigan Works! employees, who had the duty of informing her about the proper forms to file, was good cause for her failure to timely file her 802 form. This was later sustained by the Board of Review.

On request of the U.S. Dep’t of Labor, the UIA appealed the Board of Review’s decision arguing that the pertinent TRA provisions do not allow for a “good cause exception to late filings.” The Circuit Court held that Claimant was not disqualified from TRA benefits, as the doctrine of estoppel should be applied to this case, the Supreme Court had not set an absolute bar to the use of estoppel against government agencies, and equity requires that it should be permitted in this instance. The Michigan Court of Appeals initially denied the UIA’s request to appeal for lack of merit, but the Michigan Supreme Court in turn remanded the case back to the Court of Appeals for consideration as on leave granted, and it was subsequently consolidated with another claim.

DECISION: The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the Circuit Court.

RATIONALE: Rather than relying on the estoppel rationale of the Circuit Court, the Court of Appeals held that while executive departments may require deference regarding the interpretation of a federal law when the law is ambiguous, there is no such deference required when the law is clear on its face. Here, through statutory interpretation, the Court of Appeals found that the strict deadline provisions were only intended to apply to the provisions under Section 2291(a)(5)(A)(ii), the retraining section, and not to (a)(5)(A)(i), which is the retraining waiver section. Accordingly, the Department of Labor determination did not require deference, and the strict deadline did not apply to Claimant.

Digest Author: A. Kaled
Digest Updated: