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10. Voluntary Leaving

Lee v Bermex, Inc – 10.87

Lee v Bermex, Inc
Digest no. 10.87

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Lee v Bermex, Inc, unpublished opinion of the Wayne County Circuit Court, issued January 27, 1994 (Docket No. 93-324459-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Christopher A. Lee
Employer: Bermex, Inc.
Docket no.: B91-3452-RO1-121313W
Date of decision: January 27, 1994

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: A loss of a prerequisite of employment through one’s own inaction is a purely voluntary leaving, not a constructive leaving.

FACTS: Claimant worked as a meter reader. As a requirement of employment, the claimant was expected to have a vehicle. The claimant met this requirement when hired, but later “totaled” his vehicle. The employer allowed the claimant to use public transportation or car-pool with another employee until he found a replacement vehicle. This accommodation continued for seven months. The employer gave the claimant an advance pay-out of vacation time to purchase a vehicle. The employer was unable to continue to accommodate the claimant’s lack of a vehicle. The claimant failed to obtain a vehicle. The employer discharged the claimant.

DECISION: The claimant is disqualified for benefits under Section 29(1)(a).

RATIONALE: The court distinguished this matter from Clarke v North Detroit General Hosp, 437 Mich 280 (1991). Unlike the nurses in Clarke who took steps to meet their condition of employment by preparing for an examination, the claimant in the present matter “made no effort to meet his condition of employment.” The claimant’s discharge “resulted from his decision not to do anything about his situation for a lengthy period of time.” His leaving “could reasonably be characterized as volitional, freely chosen and willful – in short, voluntary.” The court found applicable Echols v MESC, 4 Mich App 173 (1966), and City of Saginaw v Lindquist, 139 Mich App 515 (1984), which hold that a loss of a prerequisite of employment through one’s actions is a voluntary leaving without good cause attributable to the employer.

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated:
7/99

Categories
10. Voluntary Leaving

Devyak v Faygo Beverages – 10.85

Devyak v Faygo Beverages
Digest no. 10.85

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Devyak v Faygo Beverages, unpublished opinion of the Wayne Circuit Court, issued May 1, 1989 (Docket No. 88-815646-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Beverly J. Devyak
Employer: Faygo Beverages
Docket no.: B87-12781-106535W
Date of decision: May 1, 1989

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: An employer cannot unilaterally decide that an employee has voluntarily quit. There must be substantiation from the employee that the employee intended to sever the employment relationship.

FACTS: The claimant experienced medical problems which led to surgery. She returned to work, but experienced surgical complications. The claimant’s workload, working hours, fatigue, a sinus infection and headaches caused her great stress. The claimant was entitled to a two week vacation. When claimant inquired about scheduling a vacation her supervisor told her she could not take any vacation time. She went to higher management without success. Claimant told her supervisor “this is horseshit,” laid down her Blue Cross card and her pass. Claimant left, taking her purse and calendar, but did not clean out her desk. A few hours later she contacted the employer’s president who directed her to report her illness to her supervisor. She contacted her supervisor who told her she was considered a voluntary quit. She attempted to return to work and provide proof of her illness.

DECISION: Claimant is not disqualified for benefits under Section 29(1)(a).

RATIONALE: While the evidence shows the claimant “blew up” on June 4, 1987, there is nothing in the record to show she intended to quit her job. The claimant did not say she was resigning, she did not clean out her desk, she called the president of the company the same day to inform him of her illness, she notified her supervisor of her illness and produced proof of her illness in an attempt to return to work. The employer “cannot, on its own, decide that an employee has voluntarily quit a job without sufficient substantiation from the employee.” Wickey v ESC, 369 Mich 487 (1963). The doctrine of “constructive voluntary leaving” does not exist under Michigan unemployment compensation law.

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated: 
7/99

Categories
10. Voluntary Leaving

Ackerberg v Grant Community Hospital – 10.11

Ackerberg v Grant Community Hospital
Digest no. 10.11

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Ackerberg v Grant Community Hosp, 138 Mich App 295 (1984).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Karla Ackerberg
Employer: Grant Community Hospital
Docket no.: B81 07538 78982
Date of decision: October 15, 1984

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: The employer must show that the claimant falls within the expressed terms of one of the disqualifications stated in the unemployment act.

FACTS: Plaintiff submitted a leave of absence form requesting an unpaid, personal leave beginning March 27, 1981, and extending for one and one-half years. The employer countered with an offer to give plaintiff a 30-day leave of absence. Plaintiff refused a 30-day leave and believed she was rightfully allowed the leave she requested. Plaintiff informed the employer she intended to begin her leave as requested by her with or without approval. The employer terminated plaintiff’s unemployment immediately.

DECISION: Claimant is not disqualified for voluntary leaving.

RATIONALE: Relying on Thomas v Employment Security Comm, 356 Mich 665 (1959) and Copper Range Co v UCC, 320 Mich 460 (1948), the court declined to find a constructive voluntary leaving when the claimant was actually discharged by the employer. Because the employer discharged the claimant on March 23, we can only speculate as to what the claimant would have done on March 27. The Act does not permit disqualification on the basis of speculation as to what an individual would have done if he or she had not been discharged.

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

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

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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