12. Misconduct

Physicians Health Plan of Mid Michigan v. Chapman – 12.149

Physicians Health Plan of Mid Michigan v. Chapman
Digest No. 12.149

Section 421.29(1)(b)

Cite as: Physicians Health Plan v Chapman, unpublished opinion of the Ingham County Circuit Court, issued December 16, 2008 (Docket No. 08-628-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Shanika Chapman
Employer: Physicians Health Plan of Mid Michigan
Date of decision: December 16, 2008

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HOLDING: It is misconduct as a matter of law when an insurance company employee committs insurance fraud in violation of her employer’s human resources manual.

FACTS: Claimant worked in customer service for the employer insurance company; her job duties included assessing claims and administering customers’ financial obligations. Claimant was fired after she revealed to her employer that she committed criminal fraud by filing a false claim against her car insurance company.

At the ALJ hearing, the employer cited its H.R. policy manual as permitting employee firings for criminal activity, which could harm the employer’s public image. But, the ALJ decided Claimant was still not disqualified from receiving benefits for misconduct. The Board of Review affirmed, citing the mandate to interpret the meaning of misconduct narrowly to avoid disqualification.

DECISION: Reversed. The Circuit Court determined that claimant’s conduct constituted misconduct connected with her work, disqualifying her from benefits.

RATIONALE: The Circuit Court surveyed various cases regarding whether off-duty conduct may be sufficiently connected to a claimant’s work to constitute misconduct. Ultimately, it concluded that, as a matter of law, the filing of a false insurance claim constituted a wanton disregard of the employer’s interests and standards of behavior. This behavior clouded Claimant’s ability to fulfill her job duties, particularly given her unique financial responsibilities; sufficiently involved the employer’s interests; and adversely affected the employer’s behavioral expectations of employees.

Digest author: Austin L. Webbert, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: 10-31-2017

12. Misconduct

Banks v Ford Motor Co – 12.06

Banks v Ford Motor Co
Digest no. 12.06

Section 29(1)(b)

Cite as: Banks v Ford Motor Co, 123 Mich App 250 (1983).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: John L. Banks
Employer: Ford Motor Company
Docket no.: B79 06738 67680
Date of decision: February 10, 1983

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: “Disqualification may be based on an assault connected with the claimant’s work, even though the reasons for the assault are not related to the work.”

FACTS: “At approximately 10:45 p.m. on January 22, 1979, the claimant had entered the plant parking lot prior to beginning work on his shift. Another employee was moving his car from one space in the lot to another prior to finishing work on his shift. The claimant’s vehicle was struck by the vehicle driven by the other employee. The claimant and the other employee each got out of his car. While the other employee apologized, claimant opened a penknife and struck him with it in the neck and chest.”

DECISION: The claimant is disqualified for assault and battery.

RATIONALE: “(T)he assault occurred on company property. The assailant and his victim were both employees of Ford and were both at the plant to work. Under the Worker’s Disability Compensation Act of 1969, the injuries to the victim of the claimant’s assault arose out of and in the course of employment. MCL 418.301 (1)(3); MSA 17.237 (301)(1)(3). See Queen v General Motors Corp, 38 Mich App 630 (1972); Brady v Clark Equipment Co, 72 Mich App 274 (1976). The injury to, and potential for injury to, the employer’s interests is evident in the present case.”

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

12. Misconduct

Benaske v General Telephone Co of Michigan – 12.28

Benaske v General Telephone Co of Michigan
Digest no. 12.28

Section 29(1)(b)

Cite as: Benaske v Gen Tel Co of Michigan, unpublished opinion of the Isabella County Circuit Court, issued March 5, 1980 (Docket No. 79 008439 AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Raymond O. Benaske
Employer: General Telephone Co.
Docket no.: B77 444 55273
Date of decision: March 5, 1980

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: Where an employer has not proved any connection between a claimant’s work and the actual events resulting in the claimant’s arrest, a charge of off-duty criminal conduct is not misconduct under the Act.

FACTS: A telephone installation and repair worker was discharged five days after he was arrested and charged with a felony, criminal sexual conduct in the third degree. The incident leading to the charge took place after working hours, and in a county outside the claimant’s service area. The claimant later entered a plea of guilty to the misdemeanor or contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

DECISION: The claimant is not disqualified for misconduct.

RATIONALE: “To comply with the intent and language of the Act, the Board must restrict itself to standards that (A) put the burden on the employer to prove (B) a work connection by competent, material and substantial evidence. MESA 38. Standards that demand less or consider extraneous factors are erroneous as a matter of law.

“The evidence does not support a finding that claimant was discharged for ‘misconduct connected with his work.’ Rather, he was discharged for merely having been accused of off-duty misconduct. Nor has the employer proved any connection between the actual events leading to claimant’s arrest and claimant’s work.”

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

12. Misconduct

General Motors Corp v Belcher – 12.27

General Motors Corp v Belcher
Digest no. 12.27

Section 29(1)(b)

Cite as: General Motors Corp v Belcher, unpublished opinion of the Wayne Circuit Court, issued October 3, 1979 (Docket No. 78-832-459 AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Frank Belcher
Employer: General Motors Corp.
Docket no.: B77 3823 55598
Date of decision: October 3, 1979

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: A discharge from employment because of false statements to the Commission is not for reasons constituting misconduct connected with work.

FACTS: The Commission imposed the fraud penalty in Section 62(b) of the Act after finding that the claimant had misrepresented his eligibility for benefits by understating his earnings. The employer then discharged the claimant, in keeping with its standard practice in such cases.

DECISION: The claimant is not disqualified for misconduct discharge.

RATIONALE: “[W]e cannot expect the average factory worker, having notice of shop rules, such as shop rule (1) here involved, to understand that his unemployment payments are a result of contributions made by his employer, and that when he gives false information to the unemployment agent, he is ultimately causing detriment to his own employer.

“In sum, Mr. Belcher has already been penalized under Section 62(b) and has made full restitution, and General Motors has experienced minimal detriment. In line with the Douglas [Chrysler Corp v Douglas, Wayne Circuit Court, Case No 101-015, June 6, 1968] decision and those upon which it relied, Mr. Belcher’s discharge was clearly not due to ‘misconduct connected with his work.'”

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

12. Misconduct

Reed v. Employment Security Commission – 12.73

Reed v. Employment Security Commission
Digest No. 12.73

Section 421.29

Cite as: Reed v MESC, 364 Mich 395 (1961).

Court: Supreme Court of Michigan
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Willie Reed
Employer: Grant Brothers Foundry Company
Date of decision: September 23, 1961

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HOLDING: Claimant was not discharged for misconduct connected to his work as contemplated by the statute.

FACTS: Claimant was employed by Grant Brothers Foundry Company, which had a rule that an employee would be discharged from employment if a second writ of garnishment of his wages were served upon the company. Four garnishments of Claimant’s wages were served on Grant Brothers Foundry Company within a period of nine months. He was discharged. He appealed the judgment for disqualification for benefits on the grounds that he had been discharged for misconduct connected to his work.

DECISION: The statute expressly limits the disqualification to misconduct connected to his work. The rule sets forth a condition of employment. It covers the selection and retention of employees, not their conduct on the job or connected with their work. A breach of this behavior may entitle the employer to discharge his employee, but that discharge is not for misconduct connected with his work as contemplated by the statute.

RATIONALE: The purpose of the act is to benefit unemployed claimants in financial trouble, not to penalize them for being in that condition. The language of the statute does not permit the conduct here to be termed misconduct. Claimant’s going into debt was not connected to his work even though the consequences might have affected his employer. The concurring opinions cite to Cassar v Employment Security Commission, 343 Mich 380 (1955), Linski v Employment Security Commission, 359 Mich 239 (1959), Bell v Employment Security Commission, 359 Mich 649 (1960), and Jenkins v Employment Security Commission, 364 Mich 379 (1961) to point to legislative intent.

Digest author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest updated: January 2, 2018