05. Denial Periods

Petrelius v. Houghton-Portage Township Schools – 5.24

Petrelius v. Houghton-Portage Township Schools, UIA
Digest No. 5.24

Section 421.27(i)(2)


Cite as: Petrelius v Houghton-Portage Township Schools, 761 N.W.2d 395 (2008).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: William M. Petrelius
Employer: Houghton-Portage Township Schools
Date of decision: November 20, 2008

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HOLDING: The district court and board of review erred in finding that claimant is eligible for unemployment benefits. The plain language of MCL 421.27(i)(2) precludes the award of unemployment benefits for any week of unemployment commencing between successive academic years under such circumstances.

FACTS: Claimant performed services for the Houghton-Portage Township Schools during two successive academic years. The period of unemployment at issue occurred between these two successive academic years. Claimant worked for the school in the first of those two years. Claimant was given reasonable assurance that he would be brought back to work in the second academic year. Claimant stated that in the years before 2003, he was employed throughout the summer. He also stated that his pay structure and benefits reflected that full-year employment.

DECISION: The Court of Appeals reversed the Board of Review’s decision. Claimant is ineligible for unemployment benefits.

RATIONALE: The only consideration necessary under MCL 421.27(i)(2) is whether the period of unemployment took place during the period between two successive academic years. MCL 421.27(i)(2) provides that “benefits shall not be paid” for any week of unemployment commencing between successive academic years.

The Court referenced its explanation of MCL 421.27(i)(2) in Adams v West Ottawa Schools 277 Mich App 461, 463, 746 N.W.2d 113 (2008): “[E]mployees working for an educational institution, who are not teachers, researchers, or principal administrators, may not receive unemployment benefits during summer break if they have a reasonable assurance that they will be working in the academic year that follows the summer break.”

Since Claimant’s layoff period in this case was during the summer break, and he had reasonable assurance that his job duties would resume in the upcoming academic year, he is not eligible for benefits. See Riekse v Grand Rapids Pub Schools, 144 Mich App 790, 792-793 (1985).

Furthermore, MCL 421.27(i)(2) does not provide an exception for employees who were offered employment for the period between two successive academic years in past years. In addition, an employee’s subjective expectations about continued employment between two successive academic years should not be considered under MCL 421.27(i)(2).

Digest author: Rita Samaan, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: October 30, 2017