10. Voluntary Leaving

Jones v. Pinconning Area Schools – 10.103

Jones v. Pinconning Area Schools
Digest No. 10.103

Section 421.29(1)(a)

Cite as: Jones v Pinconning Area Schools, unpublished opinion of the Bay County Circuit Court, issued April 5, 2007 (Docket No. 187403W).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Terese G. Jones
Employer: Pinconning Area Schools
Date of decision: April 5, 2007

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HOLDING: A claimant’s decision to voluntarily leave her job following a unilateral change in her employment agreement is with good cause attributable to her employer if the claimant notifies her employer about her concerns regarding the change in her employment agreement and gives her employer the opportunity to correct her concerns prior to her resignation.  

FACTS: Claimant began work for Pinconning Area Schools on August 1, 2005 after responding to a job posting that advertised an “initial two-year contract annually renewed for future years”. Claimant was provided with a “proposed” employment contract on the first day of her employment that contained a 30 day “at-will” provision. Claimant found this objectionable since it was contrary to the two-year contract that the job posting had promised. Claimant raised these concerns with her employer and was told that they did not wish to change the contract. A second proposed contract was given to Claimant, which Claimant signed on August 10, 2005. On August 11, 2005, Claimant tendered her resignation. The ALJ found that Claimant was disqualified from receiving benefits. The MCAC reversed, finding Claimant was not disqualified.   

DECISION: The Circuit Court affirmed the decision of the MCAC. Claimant is not disqualified from receiving benefits.

RATIONALE: The employer unilaterally changed the terms of Claimant’s employment because the employer’s only offer had been set forth in its job posting, and Claimant’s acceptance of the position was predicated by the terms that were set forth in the posting.

Material changes in an employment contract may constitute good cause for quitting if: (1) a claimant provides the employer with notice and an opportunity to correct the claimant’s concerns; (2) the employer fails to correct these concerns; and (3) the claimant’s concerns are reasonable. Here, it was reasonable for Claimant to be concerned about the unilateral change in her employment contract. Additionally, Claimant did provide employer with notice of her concerns and gave the employer an opportunity to correct her concerns prior to her resignation.

Digest author: Cydney Warburton, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: 10/31/2017

10. Voluntary Leaving

Clark Equipment Co v Schultz – 10.46

Clark Equipment Co v Schultz
Digest no. 10.46

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Clark Equip Co v Schultz, unpublished opinion of the Court of Appeals, issued October 15, 1987 (Docket No. 88079).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: John A. Schultz
Employer: Clark Equipment Company
Docket no.: B83 15815 93709W
Date of decision: October 15, 1987

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: Claimants made a choice between reasonable alternatives and are disqualified for voluntary leaving where they retired early to take advantage of a retirement program in an existing contract rather than risk a change of benefits resulting from contract negotiations.

FACTS: The involved claimants were eligible for early retirement under an existing collective bargaining agreement scheduled to expire 6-17-83. Because of their seniority they were assured of continued employment. Claimants received information from their union regarding what their pension rights would be after the contract expired. Although the employer “threatened” during negotiations to cancel the pension plan, that “threat” was not conveyed to the claimants, nor were they advised to retire by the union representative. Uncertain about their pension benefits after expiration of the contract, claimants elected to retire effective May 31, 1983.

DECISION: Claimants are disqualified for voluntary leaving.

RATIONALE: “Voluntariness must connote a decision based upon reasonable alternatives not merely acquiescence to a result imposed by physical and economic facts utterly beyond an individual’s control. Lyons v Employment Security Comm, 363 Mich 201, 216 (1961); Laya v Cebar Construction Co, 101 Mich App 26, 32. Here, claimants were not faced with economic pressures which created untenable alternatives. Cf., Larson v Employment Security Commission, 2 Mich App 540 (1966); Laya, supra. Rather, they had a choice between retiring and taking the substantial pension benefits already negotiated or postponing retirement and taking their chances on newly negotiated pension benefits which might be more or less favorable.”

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