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 ยง 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