13. Refusal of Work

Chrysler Corp v Devine – 13.04

Chrysler Corp v Devine
Digest No. 13.04
Section 421.29(1)(d)

Cite as: Chrysler Corp. v. De Vine, 92 Mich. App. 555, 285 N.W.2d 373 (1979)

Court: Court of Appeals of Michigan
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Kevin DeVine
Employer: Chrysler Corporation
Date of decision: September 20, 1979

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HOLDING: Given the good faith of the claimant, actual non-receipt of the notice constituted good cause for his nonattendance under MCLA § 421.29(1)(d).

FACTS: Plaintiff employer appealed the decision by a Michigan circuit court, which affirmed the decision of the Michigan Employment Security Appeal Board that defendant employee was not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Claimant was laid off from employer’s plant and applied for benefits. His unemployment claim form listed his address as that of his parents, although he was living in an apartment away from home. Claimant failed to appear for the requested interview because he did not receive the message regarding the telegram until well after the date of the interview. The employer claimed that the claimant’s non-receipt of actual notice sent by the employer had not constituted good cause for the claimant to fail to report to an interview.

DECISION: The court affirmed the circuit court’s judgment.

RATIONALE: In order for good cause to be present for the failure to attend, the reason must be substantial, significant, and reasonable. See Keith v Chrysler Corp, 390 Mich 458, 475; 213 NW2d 147 (1973). The employer’s claim of an agency theory that reasonable notice to the mother constituted notice to the employee was rejected because the court determined that the Legislature did not intend general principles of agency to apply to the case at bar. The court emphasized the employee’s good faith in the matter, because he was at all times ready and willing to go back to work. Therefore, actual non-receipt of the notice constituted good cause for his nonattendance of the offered interview.

Digest author: Toni Suh, Michigan Law, Class of 2020
Digest updated: January 29, 2021

13. Refusal of Work

Keith v. Chrysler Corp. – 13.01

Keith v. Chrysler Corp.
Digest No. 13.01
Section 421.29(1)

Cite as: Keith v. Chrysler Corp, 390 Mich. 458, 213 N.W.2d 147 (1973)
Court: Supreme Court of Michigan
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: John Keith
Employer: Chrysler Corporation
Date of decision: December 18, 1973

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HOLDING: On appeal, the court held that the employee was provided a reasonable time to report for the interview because the employer waited two and one-half months to file a notice of possible disqualification.

FACTS: The employee was hired by defendant employer to work at a certain location. He was laid off for lack of available work. The employer notified the employee of an interview for work at a different location, but the employee did not go. The appeal board disqualified the employee from receiving unemployment benefits for failure to comply with the requirements of § 29(1)(d) of the MESA, by failing, without good cause, to report to his employer for the interview. The appeals court upheld the appeal board’s decision.

DECISION: The court affirmed the appeals court’s decision to uphold the appeal board’s denial of unemployment benefits to the employee.
RATIONALE: The employee showed no good cause for his failure where the interview was a reasonable distance from his residence and the time was flexible. His dislike for the potential work and desire to maintain status at the first plant did not constitute good cause.

Digest author: Toni Suh, Michigan Law, Class of 2020
Digest updated: January 29, 2021

16. Procedures/Appeals

DiGregorio v J C Concrete Inc. – 16.92

DiGregorio v J C Concrete Inc.
Digest No. 16.92

Section 421.32a

Cite as: DiGregorio v J C Concrete Inc, unpublished decision of the Michigan Administrative Hearing System, issued September 8, 2016 (Case No. 15-060623).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Daniel DiGregorio
Employer: J C Concrete Inc.
Date of decision: September 8, 2016

View/download the full decision

HOLDING: Claimant had good cause for his late appeal because he could not understand the conflicting decisions of the Agency with his ADD. Restitution is cancelled because of deficient notice and the Agency’s failure to collect within the statutory period.

FACTS: On September 1, 2015, the Agency issued a redetermination seeking restitution. Claimant did not appeal this until October 29, 2015. Claimant received “over twenty” adjudications from the Agency and was confused because he felt they were conflicting. Claimant concluded that he did not owe anything, so he did not appeal. He did not appeal until he received a bill from the Agency. Claimant also alleges that his ADD and anxiety, for which he sees a doctor and takes medication, affected his ability to comprehend things.

DECISION: Claimant had good cause for the late appeal. Fraud penalties reversed and Claimant does not owe any restitution.

RATIONALE: On good cause, Claimant was confronted at once with many decisions with “conflicting results [that] would be confusing to all but the most seasoned claimant.” In light of this and Claimant’s comprehension limitations, he had good cause for the late appeal.

The Agency violated due process with its fraud redeterminations. Due process requires that the party has notice that is “reasonably calculated, under the circumstances, to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action and afford them the opportunity to present their objections.” Brooks Williamson & Associates, Inc v Mayflower Const Co, 308 Mich App 18, 35; (2014) citing Mullane v Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co  “A bare demand for payment of fraud penalties does not establish or give notice of the basis for the demand.”

As for restitution, the Agency issued the fraud claim after three years, so the claim for restitution is time barred under Section 62(a). Further, the Agency failed to issue a determination in this case, and a “redetermination without a determination is void as a matter of law.” Fisk v Prostaff Employment Solutions LLC, 15-057282-248256W and 15-057299-238257W MCAC (May 23, 2016).

Digest author: Benjamin Tigay, Michigan Law, Class of 2018
Digest updated: January 26, 2018

16. Procedures/Appeals Article

Article: Legally Insufficient Notice and UIA Determinations

Legally Insufficient Notice and Unemployment Insurance Agency Determinations
By: Leila McClure, Marina Hunt, and Steve Gray
University of Michigan Law School Unemployment Insurance Clinic
April 2016

Sections: 421.32a, 421.33

Download a PDF version of this article

Frequently, unemployment insurance claimants and employers must rely only on short letter determinations and redeterminations (notices) they receive from the Agency that provide little or no information about why the Agency has taken the action of which it is notifying the party. This confuses most parties and can often prevent them from adequately responding to a negative action taken against them by the Agency. The sparse or confusing notices prevent them from either making, effective protest and appeal decisions, or unable to prepare for hearings. The following article discusses the circumstances in which Agency  notices are legally insufficient and what effect that should have on administrative proceedings.

Agency Required to Comply with US Department of Labor Standards
In the administration of its duties enumerated in the Michigan Employment Security Act, the State of Michigan must “cooperate with the appropriate agency of the United States under the Social Security Act.” M.C.L. 421.11(a). Per this requirement, the Unemployment Insurance agency is statutorily required to comply with relevant regulations promulgated by the Department of Labor.

Relevant Department of Labor Notice Standard
Section 6013 of Appendix A to Part 602 of the Employment Security Manual requires the State of Michigan to include “in written notices of determination furnished to claimants sufficient information to enable them to understand the determinations, the reasons therefor, and their rights to protest, request reconsideration, or appeal.” 20 CFR § 602 App. A, 6013(C)(2)

With regards to disqualification from benefits, the Department of Labor provides that: “If a disqualification is imposed, or if the claimant is declared ineligible for one or more weeks, he must be given not only a statement of the period of disqualification or ineligibility and the amount of wage-credit reductions, if any, but also an explanation of the reason for the ineligibility or disqualification. This explanation must be sufficiently detailed so that he will understand why he is ineligible or why he has been disqualified, and what he must do in order to requalify for benefits or purge the disqualification. The statement must be individualized to indicate the facts upon which the determination was based, e.g., state, “It is found that you left your work with Blank Company because you were tired of working; the separation was voluntary, and the reason does not constitute good cause,” rather than merely the phrase “voluntary quit.” Checking a box as to the reason for the disqualification is not a sufficiently detailed explanation. However, this statement of the reason for the disqualification need not be a restatement of all facts considered in arriving at the determination.” 20 CFR § 602 App. A, 6013(C)(2)(h) (2012) (Emphasis Added).

In the Department of Labor Advisory, Unemployment Insurance Program Letter, No. 01-16 concerning “Federal Requirements to Protect Individual Rights in State Unemployment Compensation Overpayment Prevention and Recovery Procedures, the Department of Labor specifically instructed on what qualifies as sufficient notice for fraud determinations. To satisfy federal law, the individual accused of fraud must “be provided with a written determination which provides sufficient information to understand the basis for the determination and how/when an appeal must be filed and must also include the facts on which the determination is based, the reason for allowing or denying benefits, the legal basis for the determination, and potential penalties or consequences.” USDOL Unemployment Insurance Program Letter No. 1-16, page 2 (emphasis added). The Letter also provides a description of the information that must be included in a written determination:

  1. A summary statement of the material facts on which the determination is based;
  2. The reason for allowing or denying benefits; and
  3. The conclusion of the decision based on the state’s law

Relevant Michigan Law
In Snyder v. RAM Broadcasting, No. 82 23718 AE, Washtenaw Circuit Court (April 26, 1983) (Digest No. 16.39), the Circuit Court held that a “Notice of Hearing which [does] not give a plain statement that claimant’s eligibility pursuant to Section 28(1)(a)… might be raised was not an adequate notice of the issue when it merely used the words ‘Ability/Availability/Seeking Work/Eligibility.’” The reasoning the court used in deciding this notice was inadequate was that it was “not a plain statement of the matters asserted,” meaning that “words and phrases divided by slashes and followed by a string citation to given sections of the Act do not provide a reasonably understandable notification that an issue will be considered, especially where the notification is intended for a lay person.”

Recently in Proulx v. Horiba Subsidiary Inc., 14-006880-241108 (Oct. 2, 2014) (Digest No. 18.21), an unpublished decision by the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission (MCAC), the body held in part that the agency’s fraud redetermination was insufficient because “it merely provide[d] a conclusory statement with no fact-finding to support it.”

Agency Practice
The Unemployment Agency’s practice of sending conclusory statements of disqualification or findings of misrepresentation violates both the mandatory Department of Labor standards and existing Michigan law. Examples of insufficient notice under the Department of Labor standard include:

  • “Your actions indicate you intentionally misled and/or concealed information to obtain benefits you were not entitled to receive”
  • “You quit your job with COMPANY on DATE due to other personal reasons”
  • Redeterminations including only the underlying issue and relevant statute number, such as: “Ability 28(1)(c)”

Good Cause to Re-Open
Pursuant to UIA Rule 270(1)(e), ““fail[ure] to receive a reasonable and timely notice” is good cause for reconsideration and reopening. Section 32(a) of the MESA provides that “the claimant and other interested parties shall be promptly notified of the determination and the reasons for the determination.” Based on the failure to comply with Department of Labor standards and existing Michigan law, any agency determination or redetermination is void if it does not include:

  • An explanation of the reason for the ineligibility or disqualification that is sufficiently detailed so that the claimant knows why he or she is ineligible
  • Information about what the claimant must do to appeal or requalify for benefits
  • Individualized facts to indicate how the decision was reached

Effect of Insufficient Notice

Void ab initio
Insufficient notice of an agency decision makes that decision null and can be treated as void ab initio. The Michigan Court of Appeals has held that a failure to give proper notice as required by the applicable statute “is a jurisdictional defect that renders the subsequent proceedings void.” Kanouse v Montcalm County Drain Comm’r, unpublished opinion per curium of the Court of Appeals, issued March 19, 2002 (Docket No. 236285), p 2. Likewise, the Court of Appeals held in a workers’ compensation case that improper notice renders a subsequent judgment potentially voidable. Abbott v Howard, 182 Mich App 243 (1990).

Procedural Due Process
The notion that insufficient notice renders a subsequent decision void also comes from a two-step analysis:

(1) Inadequate notice is a violation of procedural due process rights, and

(2) Decisions that relied on a lack of due process cannot be sustained.

Under step (1), it is clear from U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence that proper notice is fundamental to due process. See, e.g., Mullane v Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co., 339 US 306 (1950). In a case specifically about the rights of welfare recipients, the U.S. Supreme Court said that due process requires “timely and adequate notice detailing the reasons for” an agency decision, and“[t]hese rights are important in cases such as those before us, where recipients have challenged proposed terminations.” Goldberg v Kelly, 397 US 254 (1970). See also Cosby v Ward, 843 F2d 967 (CA 7, 1988) (failure to provide adequate written notice of issues to be raised at unemployment compensation hearing violated fair hearing requirement).

Under step (2), courts have voided judgments that were founded on violations of procedural due process. Often these cases fall under procedural rules such as FRCP 60(b)(4) and MRCP 2.612(c)(1)(d), which allow courts to provide relief from judgments that are void. Courts have interpreted those rules as applying to judgments that arose from inadequate process. See, e.g., In re Ruehle, 307 BR 28 (Bankr CA 6, 2004) (upholding a lower court’s decision to vacate an order where one party was denied due process of law).

Lack of Jurisdiction

An ALJ’s Authority
Where there is an occurrence of insufficient notice or a void determination, an Administrative Law Judge has the authority to dismiss or adjourn a hearing based on lack of jurisdiction over the matter. An ALJ’s authority to return jurisdiction can be inferred from both the Michigan Employment Security Act and the MAHS hearing rules issued by LARA. Section 33 of the Act authorizes MAHS to accept cases on appeal and then give them to Administrative Law Judges so long as they deal with redeterminations issued by the agency in accordance with Section 32a. MESA 421.33(1). Section 32a(1) details the agency’s decision-making process, by which a determination or redetermination is issued at each step, followed by “a hearing on the redetermination before an administrative law judge.” MESA 421.32a(1). According to these rules, the ability to have a hearing with an ALJ is contingent upon the existence of an agency decision. Without a valid determination or redetermination, the judge does not have jurisdiction over the case under MESA.

Also, it is standard practice for an ALJ to return a matter to the Agency when they can’t find an Agency determination to support it. ALJs commonly return matters to the Agency when no determination can be found in their system or in the hearing file.  Legally insufficient notice is akin to that situation.

The administrative hearing rules, issued by LARA for MAHS, support the principle that the ALJ has broad discretion in deciding how to handle a case, including issues that arise before or after hearings and questions of jurisdiction. For example, Rule 106 contains a lengthy list of powers that the ALJ has, including the power to, “on an administrative law judge’s own initiative, adjourn hearings.” Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Michigan Administrative Hearing System Administrative Hearing Rules (eff. January 15, 2015), R 792.10106(1)(o). In addition, Rule 110 allows the ALJ to decline to consider a document that was not properly served on all parties, which is another form of inadequate notice. Id. R 792.10110(8).

Application to Good Cause
The fact that a claimant or employer received insufficient notice in the determinations provides her with good cause for filing a late appeal. The Agency’s administrative code provides that ‘good cause’ for reconsideration under MCL 421.32a includes among other things failure “to receive a reasonable and timely notice, order, or decision.” Mich Admin Code R 421.270(1)(e). Where a determination is legally insufficient on its face, it does not provide reasonable notice as required by 270(1)(e). On that basis, there is good cause for reopening, rehearing, or late appeals.

Appropriate Remedies
There are two possible appropriate remedies when the UIA has provided notice that does not meet the Department of Labor standards. First, a notice could be deemed unreasonable on its face. With a finding of unreasonable notice, the notice can be voided and jurisdiction should return to the Agency to issue a notice that complies with the above-mentioned standards. Alternatively, the unreasonable notice could form the basis for good cause for reopening or late appeal. Under a finding for good cause for reopening or late appeal, a case would then proceed on the underlying merits of the unemployment claim.

About the Authors

– Leila McClure, University of Michigan Law School, Class of 2016

– Marina Hunt, University of Michigan Law School Class of 2017

– Steve Gray, Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of the University of Michigan Law School Unemployment Insurance Clinic

16. Procedures/Appeals

Gordon v. Miller Apple – 16.82

Gordon v. Miller Apple
Digest No. 16.82

Section 421.54

Cite as: Gordon v Miller Apple, unpublished opinion of the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission, issued October 3, 2012 (Docket No. B2011-11754-RM9-228743W).

Court: Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Thomas Gordon
Employer: Miller Apple, LP
Date of decision: October 3, 2012

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HOLDING: The Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission (MCAC) 1) reversed an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) order denying rehearing, and 2) found the claimant had not committed fraud under Section 54(b).  

FACTS:  The Agency found Claimant disqualified for benefits and liable for penalties under the fraud provision of Section 54(b).  Claimant did not contest his ineligibility, but did deny that he had committed fraud under the statute.  Because both cases involve similar facts and points of law, they were docketed together for a hearing pursuant to Administrative Rule R421.1205.  Because the ALJ was unavailable, those hearings were cancelled and rescheduled for a subsequent date at 11:00am and 12:00 pm respectively.  Claimant’s attorney received only one of these notices of hearing, and thus told Claimant to arrive at noon on the day of the hearing.  When Claimant failed to appear for his 11:00 am hearing, he found the claim had been dismissed.  The ALJ subsequently found no good cause for Claimant’s failure to appear and denied his request for rehearing.  On the question of fraud, Claimant testified that while he did not contest his ineligibility, he did not commit fraud under Section 54(b).  Claimant had not reported his irregular part time earnings, but immediately began reporting them when informed of this requirement.

DECISION: The Commission made two holdings: on the question of Claimant’s request for rehearing, the Commission found good cause for Claimant’s failure to appear and set aside the ALJ order denying rehearing.  On the question of fraud, the Commission reversed the Agency determination finding fraud under Section 54(b), finding that Claimant did not intentionally misrepresent a material fact to obtain benefits to which he was not entitled.

RATIONALE: On the question of Claimant’s request for rehearing, the Commission found that the attorney’s failure to receive both notices of hearing established good cause for Claimant’s failure to appear at his first scheduled hearing.  On the question of fraud, the Commission found Claimant’s testimony credible in showing he did not intentionally misrepresent a material fact to the Agency to obtain benefits he was not entitled to, and thus did not commit fraud within the meaning of Section 54(b).  Here, Claimant incorrectly reported irregular part-time income to the Agency, but called the Agency to determine if and how to report these earnings.  As soon as Claimant discovered his error, he began reporting his earnings.  The Commission thus found that while he remained ineligible for benefits, he did not commit fraud under Section 54(b).

Digest author: Laura Page, Michigan Law, Class of 2018
Digest updated: December 27, 2017

10. Voluntary Leaving

Myllylahti v. Full Force Diamond Drilling – 10.109

Myllylahti v. Full Force Diamond Drilling
Digest No. 10.109

Section 421.29(1)(a)

Cite as: Myllylahti v Full Force Diamond Drilling, unpublished opinion of the Ontonagon County Circuit Court, issued February 9, 2010 (Docket No. 09-71 AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Robert J. Myllylahti
Employer: Full Force Diamond Drilling USA, Inc.
Date of decision: February 9, 2010

View/download the full decision

HOLDING: Where the working conditions imposed on a claimant by the employer are mentally and physically challenging enough to cause a reasonable, average or otherwise qualified worker to give up his employment, the claimant’s leaving was with good cause attributable to the employer.   

FACTS: Claimant began working for the employer on October 1, 2008 as a driller’s assistant working 13 hours per day, seven days per week. Claimant’s last day of work was October 22, 2008, when Claimant quit without prior notice to employer in the middle of his shift. Claimant indicated that the work was too hard and he could no longer do it. However, Claimant did not notify his employer of any work-related problems prior to quitting.

DECISION: The ALJ found that Claimant was disqualified for benefits. The MCAC affirmed. The Circuit Court reversed. Claimant is not disqualified for benefits.  

RATIONALE: To determine whether an employee left employment due to good cause attributable to the employer, the reasonable person standard is applied. “Under that standard, ‘good cause’ compelling an employee to terminate his or her employment should be found where the employer’s actions would cause a reasonable, average, or otherwise qualified worker to give up his or her employment.” Carswell v Share House, Inc, 151 Mich App 392, 396-397 (1986). The cumulative effect of 13 hours of heavy manual labor every day for twenty-two days straight, both mentally and physically, on a reasonable, average or otherwise qualified worker is born out by the record. Claimant’s physical inability to continue to do the job demanded of him by the employer, under working conditions imposed by the employer, would cause a reasonable, average or otherwise qualified worker to give up his employment, as well. This constitutes good cause attributable to the employer and not a personal reason attributable to claimant.

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

10. Voluntary Leaving

Bechill v. Benzie County Government Center – 10.98

Bechill v. Benzie County Government Center
Digest No. 10.98

Section 421.29(1)(a)

Cite as: Bechill v Benzie Co. Gov’t Ctr, Benzie Circuit Court, No. B 2007-21980-RM2-201487W (August 21, 2009).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Richard J. Bechill
Employer: Benzie County Government Center
Docket no.: 201487wh
Date of decision: August 21, 2009

View/download the full decision

HOLDING: When a claimant voluntarily terminates his or her employment, a significant reduction in wages (via a reduction in work hours) constitutes good cause attributable to the employer as a matter of public policy.

FACTS: Claimant was a dispatcher at the Benzie County Sheriff’s Office. For the first five months of his employment, Claimant was working an average of 40 hours per week. Over the summer, as a result of a myriad of factors, Claimant voluntarily worked an average of 18.25 hours per week. When Claimant saw that he was only scheduled for 3 days of work (16-20 hours) for the entirety of the next month (which he has not requested), Claimant voluntarily terminated his employment.

Claimant applied for unemployment benefits but was denied. He subsequently appealed this decision and the Board of Review upheld the denial of benefits due to the fact that (1) Claimant could not show proof that he was guaranteed a certain number of hours per week and (2) Claimant failed to show that a reasonable person would have quit instead of filing a grievance under the collective bargaining agreement that governed Claimant’s employment. Claimant then submitted a request a rehearing which was denied.

DECISION: The Board of Review decision is reversed and Claimant is entitled to unemployment benefits.

RATIONALE: As a matter of public policy, a non-voluntary, significant reduction in wages constitutes good cause attributable to the employer. If the court did not allow this to constitute good cause, this could allow employers to reduce wages near benefit level instead of releasing an employee. This would compel the employee’s resignation while simultaneously making them ineligible for benefits. Robertson v. Brown, 139 So. 2d 226, 229, 100 ALR 2d 1052 (La. Ct. App. 1962). This could make reducing hours a weapon of control for employers to make employees comply with their demands. Bunny’s Waffle Shop, Inc. v. Cal. Emp’t Comm’n, 151 P.2d 224, 227-28, 24 Cal. 2d 735, 741-43 (1944).

Digest Author: Cydney Warburton, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest Updated: 1/6/2016

16. Procedures/Appeals

Kas-Petrus v. Bushings, Inc. – 16.78

Kas-Petrus v. Bushings, Inc.
Digest No. 16.78

Section 421.32(a)

Cite as: Kas-Petrus v Bushings, Inc, unpublished opinion of the Macomb County Circuit Court, issued April 10, 2007 (Docket No. 2006-5196-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Muayed Kas-Petrus
Employer: Bushings, Inc.
Date of decision: April 10, 2007

View/download the full decision

HOLDING: MCL 421.32(a) does not require fault by the Agency to demonstrate good cause for his untimely appeal. Despite this, a claimant’s failure to timely appeal a determination due to a language barrier does not constitute good cause under MCL 421.32(a) when the claimant failed to notify the Agency of his language barrier and failed to explain why his appeal was untimely.

FACTS: On December 11, 2006, the Unemployment Insurance Agency determined Claimant was disqualified from benefits under MCL 421.29(1)(b). Claimant submitted an untimely appeal for this determination on January 26, 2006.

During an ALJ hearing, Claimant testified that his primary language was Arabic and that he could not read English. Claimant lived with his son, who spoke and read fluent English. Claimant’s son read the disqualifying determination to Claimant shortly after Claimant received it. The son informed Claimant that he was denied unemployment benefits but did not inform him of his right to appeal. Two weeks later, Claimant’s sister-in-law informed Claimant of his right to appeal. Despite still having time within his 30 day appeal window, Claimant did not appeal and was unable to explain to the ALJ why his protest was untimely.

The ALJ held that Claimant did not have good cause for his untimely appeal. The ALJ emphasized that the late protest could not be attributed to the Agency because appellant failed to inform the Agency that he required language assistance. The Board of Review affirmed the ALJ’s ruling. Claimant appealed to the Macomb County Circuit Court.

DECISION: The Board of Review’s decision is affirmed because Claimant lacked good cause for his untimely appeal under MCL 421.32(a). Claimant did not have a “legitimate inability to act sooner” under Agency Rule 421.270(d) because he was unable to explain why he filed in an untimely manner. Furthermore, Claimant’s language barrier did not constitute good cause because he failed to inform the Agency of his need for language assistance.

RATIONALE: MCL 421.32(a) provides claimants 30 days to file an appeal to an Agency determination. A claimant may appeal beyond the 30 day period if the claimant has good cause for the untimely appeal. MCL 421.32(a)(2).

Under Agency Rule 421.270(d), “good cause” includes a party’s “legitimate inability to act sooner.” Claimant argued that his inability to read English constituted a legitimate inability to act sooner. Claimant also argued that good cause does not require fault by the Agency.

The Court agreed that a claimant does not need to demonstrate Agency fault to show good cause under MCL 421.32(a). However, the Court rejected Claimant’s contention that he had a legitimate inability to act sooner. Claimant was informed of his right to appeal by his sister-in-law before the 30 day appeal period expired. Despite this, Claimant failed to file a timely appeal and offered no explanation. Because the Claimant was provided notice of his right to appeal within the 30 day period and failed to demonstrate why he appealed late, Claimant lacks good cause under MCL 421.32(a).

Digest author: Sean Higgins, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: October 31, 2017

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

View/download the full decision

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

12. Misconduct

Riccardi v Oakland General Health Systems – 12.154

Riccardi v Oakland General Health Systems
Digest no. 12.154

Section 29(1)(b)

Cite as: Riccardi v Oakland Gen Health Systems, unpublished per curiam opinion of the Court of Appeals, issued January 10, 2006 (Docket No. 256164).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Carol Ann Riccardi
Employer: Oakland General Health Systems / St. John Oakland Hospital
Docket no.: 04-050903-AE
Date of decision: January 10, 2006

View/download the full decision

COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: A finding of statutory misconduct due to excessive absenteeism or tardiness cannot be made if there is no evidence that any of the absences were not for good cause.

FACTS: Claimant’s accumulation of absences for various reasons led to her termination under Employer’s “no-fault” attendance system which set forth a schedule detailing how escalating amounts of absenteeism would lead to increasingly severe penalties. The majority of the absences were documented as due to illness, doctor’s visits, car trouble, or problems at home. Claimant was initially granted benefits under the reasoning that she was not discharged for a deliberate disregard of her employer’s interests. This determination was overruled by the ALJ, and affirmed by the Board of Review and the Circuit Court, finding that Claimant had committed disqualifying misconduct under the reasoning that her absences were excessive, she was aware of the attendance policy that could lead to dismissal, and she “made very little effort” to correct her attendance problem.

DECISION: The orders of the below tribunals are reversed, and the initial determination finding Claimant entitled to benefits is reinstated.

RATIONALE: Absenteeism and tardiness for reasons that are not outside a claimant’s control may constitute statutory misconduct. However, misconduct requires a determination that the claimant’s attendance issues were without good cause, and it is the employer’s burden to show this.

Here, no below tribunal made any factual findings discrediting Claimant’s explanations for her absences, rather only finding her disqualified due to the excessive nature of her absences and taking no remedial action despite knowing that her job was in jeopardy. Without a finding that her absences were not for good cause, the burden required to establish disqualifying misconduct was not met. The below tribunals erred in finding statutory misconduct.

Digest Author: Jack Battaglia
Digest Updated: 9/14