Categories
10. Voluntary Leaving

Giebel v State of Michigan – 10.29

Giebel v State of Michigan
Digest no. 10.29

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Giebel v State of Michigan, unpublished opinion of the Midland Circuit Court, issued October 1, 1974 (Docket No. B71 2038 40969).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Richard A. Giebel
Employer: State of Michigan
Docket no.: B71 2038 40969
Date of decision: October 1, 1974

View/download the full decision

CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: Where supervisory sarcasm and co-worker harassment make an employee persona non grata in the work place, the entire course of conduct becomes attributable to the employer, and may constitute good cause for voluntary leaving, even where the claimant does not use the grievance procedure.

FACTS: The claimant worked as a Public Welfare Trainee in the Department of Social Services. The Court adopted the Referee’s findings, and said:

“In summary, it appears that the claimant made certain objections to the conduct of fellow employees with regard to drinking beer in the offices and taking home shoes which had been donated for indigents. These complaints, going over the head of supervisors in some instances, and personality idiosyncrasies of the claimant made him persona non grata with co-employees and supervisors. They engaged in a course of conduct which claimant describes as harassment.”

The Referee found that when the claimant asked for a day off, “The employer stated that he was permitted to take the day off. She further stated that he did not need written permission. His supervisor then said, ‘Just go away and stay away and don’t bother to come back.'” The claimant resigned, without filing a grievance, after staff members ransacked his office, put a mental health manual on his desk and posted a religious caricature on his office door, to teach him a lesson.

DECISION: The claimant is not disqualified for voluntary leaving.

RATIONALE: “The brief of the Appellee admits only the ‘sarcastic statement by an irritated superior on one occasion,’ but when that statement is placed in the time sequence of the other acts of harassment the entire course of conduct becomes attributable to the employer. Passive employer approval can be sufficient. Taylored Products, Inc. v MESC, Berrien Circuit #C-3963-H (1966), 5 CCH Unemployment Insurance Reporter Section 1975.949.”

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

Categories
10. Voluntary Leaving

Echols v MESC – 10.49

Echols v MESC
Digest no. 10.49

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Echols v MESC, 380 Mich 87 (1968).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Bruce Echols
Employer: John Kraus, d.b.a. Checker Cab
Docket no.: B63 5770 31807
Date of decision: February 9, 1968

View/download the full decision

SUPREME COURT HOLDING: “[T]he loss of a claimant’s prerequisites from continued employment, especially through his own negligence is a voluntary leaving without good cause attributable to the employer . … [T]he claimant lost his operator’s license through no fault of the employer and it is our opinion that his leaving was not constructive but purely a voluntary leaving and he should be disqualified.”

FACTS: Claimant was a taxicab driver. His driver’s license was suspended for 90 days as the result of the accumulation of 12 points or more. Claimant therefore was unable to work as a taxicab driver. Claimant was not discharged by his employer. The employer indicated at the Referee hearing that claimant could return to work as soon as he had his license restored.

DECISION: Claimant is disqualified for voluntarily leaving his employment without good cause attributable to the employer.

RATIONALE: “The employee because of his negligent operation of an automobile was unable to obtain a license from the Secretary of State’s office, and it was incumbent upon him to have a license to be employed.” “… to put a stamp of approval on unemployment benefits for a man who had been violating the law and say a man who violates the law and lost his license as a result of his negligence, should be paid unemployment benefits, … goes far and beyond what the intention of the unemployment compensation act was.” (Quoting with approval from the decisions of the Appeal Board and the Wayne County Circuit Court.)

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

Categories
10. Voluntary Leaving

Larson v MESC – 10.50

Larson v MESC
Digest no. 10.50

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Larson v MESC, 2 Mich App 540 (1966).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Paul A. Larson
Employer: Campbell, Wyant & Cannon Foundry
Docket no.: UCX63 3742 31606
Date of decision: March 22, 1966

View/download the full decision

COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: “Claimant was forced to cease working because of his work connected injury. His signature on the combined resignation and settlement represents the act of a necessitous man faced with only one tenable alternative. This is not the ‘voluntary’ termination of employment contemplated by the statute.

FACTS: Claimant suffered a work related back injury which caused him to stop working on April 3, 1963. His doctor authorized him to perform light work but the employer had no such work available. On May 17, 1963 claimant signed an agreement to resign and waive his seniority with the employer in exchange for the redemption of his Worker’s Compensation claim in the amount of $1142.

DECISION: Claimant is not disqualified.

RATIONALE: “We do not deny that the claimant undoubtedly knew what he was doing when he signed this instrument, but it is another thing to say that he had a tenable alternative. Signing a settlement agreement under the circumstances in which Paul A. Larson found himself does not equate with leaving work voluntarily.”

“One spectre looms throughout this entire transaction: economic straits. The Employment Security Act was intended to protect just such a person as claimant from the subtly coercive effects of economic pressure, and to prevent just such a consequence as we have here.”

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

Categories
10. Voluntary Leaving

Lyons v MESC – 10.51

Lyons v MESC
Digest no. 10.51

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Lyons v MESC, 363 Mich 201 (1961).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Charles Lyons
Employer: Chrysler Corporation
Docket no.: B57 5079 20232
Date of decision: April 26, 1961

View/download the full decision

SUPREME COURT HOLDING: Section 29(1)(a) is applicable to separations from work outside of Michigan. The finding that claimant left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the employer was supported by the evidence.

FACTS: The claimant was laid off from one of the employer’s Michigan plants. After receiving a few weeks of unemployment benefits, he accepted work at the employer’s Indiana plant, 273 miles from home. The car he relied on broke down, the friend with whom he planned to commute quit, he did not receive expected overtime, and he learned his minor son had left home. He resigned the Indiana employment to return to Michigan. He was denied further benefits as his leaving was voluntary without good cause attributable to the employer.

DECISION: The claimant is disqualified for voluntary leaving.

RATIONALE: The application of Section 29(1)(a) to separations from work outside of Michigan is consistent with the language of that Section as well as those parts of the Act which provide for reciprocal agreements between states for one state to pay accrued benefits to an employee after he has moved to another state and become unemployed. A contrary interpretation would impose more stringent standards on employees working wholly in Michigan than those whose employment takes them outside the state.

The justices split on the question of the voluntariness of the leaving. Three justices stated the leaving was for wholly personal reasons and, as a matter of law, was voluntary and without good cause attributable to the employer. Two justices agreed with the disqualification but viewed the issue of voluntariness as one of fact which had been decided against the claimant on the basis of evidence which supported the finding. Three justices, in an opinion by Justice Edwards, concluded that, as a matter law, the leaving was involuntary. (See Laya v Cebar Construction Company, 101 Mich App 26 (1980), Digest No. 10.05. Therein, the court adopted Justice Edwards’ standard for determining the voluntariness of a separation.)

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

Categories
10. Voluntary Leaving

Setta v Chrysler Corp – 10.13

Setta v Chrysler Corp
Digest no. 10.13

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Setta v Chrysler Corp, unpublished opinion of the Wayne Circuit Court, issued September 3, 1959 (No. 301-977).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Richard Setta
Employer: Chrysler Corporation
Docket no.: B58 6122 22034
Date of decision: September 3, 1959

View/download the full decision

CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: A claimant who makes a good faith attempt at earning a living but is unable to earn a living wage is not disqualified for benefits pursuant to Section 29(1)(a) when he quits.

FACTS: Claimant was laid off from Chrysler for lack of work. He later obtained work as a salesman for the Brown Company. Claimant began his sales job with a salary and commission. After 6 weeks he went to straight commission. After he shifted to commission, the claimant’s income dropped so low he could not earn a living wage. The drop of wages was not the result of any lack of effort on the claimant’s part.

DECISION: Claimant not disqualified pursuant to Section 29(1)(a).

RATIONALE: “The 2nd and 29th sections of the Michigan Statute when taken together, suggest that the test intended by the voluntary quit provision of Section 29 is this: Was the employee driven to leave by external pressures rather than subjective conveniences or desires. If the external pressure is great enough to make it perfectly reasonable to quit, then Section 29 of the statute does not seem to me to impose any disqualification. When one earns only $21.00 a month with nothing better in prospect, the alternatives are simple; either to starve or to quit. Under such circumstances, is there really any choice? And, when one is compelled to take the only available course, can he be said to have voluntarily done anything? Where, as in the Setta case, the pressure stems from lack of earnings sufficient to provide one’s family with the barest necessities, and with nothing better in prospect, it seems to me that there is external pressure great enough to make quitting a perfectly reasonable, indeed, an inescapable, act. Under these circumstance, either there is not a voluntary leaving of work or there is good cause for voluntarily quitting which is attributable to the employer.”

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

Categories
10. Voluntary Leaving

Borg v MUCC – 10.23

Borg v MUCC
Digest no. 10.23

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Borg v MUCC, unpublished opinion of the Wayne Circuit Court, issued February 28, 1955 (Docket No. B54 749 15677).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Edgar Borg
Employer: Ansaldi Tool & Engineering
Docket no.: B54 749 15677
Date of decision: February 28, 1955

View/download the full decision

CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: “On the question of disqualification for voluntarily leaving without good cause attributable to the employer, it appears to the court that the burden of proof is upon the employer to establish that voluntary leaving took place.”

FACTS: Claimant worked for the employer until November 25, 1953. Claimant testified he did not work between that date and December 4, 1953 because there was no work. Claimant testified that the employer promised to call when work was available, but did not do so. The employer contended that claimant was unwilling to work full time and had voluntarily quit.

DECISION: Claimant is not disqualified.

RATIONALE: The employer did not establish that claimant’s leaving was voluntary.

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

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

View/download the full decision

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