13. Refusal of Work

Dueweke v Morang Drive Greenhouses – 13.02

Dueweke v Morang Drive Greenhouses
Digest No. 13.02
Section 421.29(1)(a), 421.29(1)(e), & 421.29(6)

Cite as: Dueweke v. Morang Drive Greenhouses, 411 Mich. 670, 311 N.W.2d 712 (1981)
Court: Supreme Court of Michigan
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Eric Dueweke
Employer: Morang Drive Greenhouses
Date of decision: November 2, 1981.

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HOLDING: The court held that an offer of work involving conditions that were illegal rendered the work unsuitable. The court held that once the employee was disqualified and then re-qualified, the employee was not automatically disqualified for refusing to return to the same work.

FACTS: The employee quit his job with the employer and then filed a claim for unemployment benefits. The Michigan Employment Security Commission (“MESC”) denied the claim and imposed a disqualification under § 421.29 of the Michigan Employment Security Act (“MESA”), finding that the employee left his job without good cause. The employee served a six-week requalification period and then refiled his claim for benefits. When the employee returned to the employer, the employee was offered a job, but the employee refused contending that the overtime payment procedure violated the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C.S. § 207(a)(1).

Plaintiff employee appealed a decision from the Michigan appellate court reversing a decision awarding him unemployment benefits on the grounds that he was disqualified under § 29(1)(e) of the MESA. The employee’s action was initiated against defendant, MESC.

DECISION: The court reversed the decision denying the employee’s claim for unemployment benefits and remanded for further proceedings.

RATIONALE: The court found that MESC failed to consider whether the offered job was suitable under § 29(6) of the MESA.

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

10. Voluntary Leaving

Spence v The Dakota Corp – 10.94

Spence v The Dakota Corp
Digest no. 10.94

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Spence v The Dakota Corp, unpublished opinion of the Isabella Circuit Court, issued October 30, 2000 (Docket No. 00-1666-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Edwin Spence
Employer: The Dakota Corporation
Docket no.: B1999-04176-152773
Date of decision: October 30, 2000

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: A truck driver required to violate USDOL regulations to meet the employer’s schedule, but who notifies the employer about the potential violations, has good cause attributable to the employer for a voluntary leaving if the employer fails to take remedial action.

FACTS: Claimant worked for the employer as a truck driver for three years. Claimant drove a minimum of seven hours between Grand Haven, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario, delivering five loads of sand in four days. Claimant also commuted two and a half hours one-way to work, and spent four hours loading and unloading sand. The driving schedule resulted in claimant getting little or no sleep. Claimant falsified his travel logs to meet USDOT regulations. He complained to the employer that the schedule was taxing, illegal, compromised health and safety of the public, and that another employee also falsified logs. Claimant left after the employer failed to alter his schedule. Later the USDOT fined the employer $2100 for violations, including the false report of records of duty status.

DECISION: Claimant is not disqualified for voluntary leaving.

RATIONALE: Claimant realized he was harming his health working in an illegal manner, violating USDOT regulations, and if he were caught he would be individually responsible for the fine. While claimant repeatedly informed employer that employer was forcing him to drive illegally and that he falsified his logs to maintain an appearance of legality, employer insisted the schedule was legal and refused to review claimant’s documentation. Employer told claimant he was on his own if he was caught with falsified logs. Employer should have known the schedule could not be done legally.

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

10. Voluntary Leaving

Hibbard v Tuff Kote Dinol Rustproof – 10.15

Hibbard v Tuff Kote Dinol Rustproof
Digest no. 10.15

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Hibbard v Tuff Kote Dinol Rustproof, unpublished opinion of the Muskegon Circuit Court issued May 17, 1983 (Docket No. 82-17148 AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Thomas Hibbard
Employer: Tuff Kote Dinol Rustproof
Docket no.: B82 13562 85191W
Date of decision: May 17, 1983

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: ” … An employee whose work duties include activities which require the employee to violate federal, state or local laws has demonstrated good cause attributable to the employer or employing unit.”

FACTS: Claimant terminated his employment because his company advertised to the public a “two-step” rust proofing process which involved the application of both a penetrant and a sealant; however, the management of the firm often instructed claimant to apply only the penetrant or only the sealant to an automobile. Claimant felt that he was “cheating the public” and not doing the rust-proofing jobs properly or as advertised, and that numerous customer complaints resulted from this practice. After protesting to management about this improper and inadequate procedure, claimant resigned.

DECISION: The claimant is not disqualified for voluntary leaving.

RATIONALE: The employer’s occasional practice of requiring claimant to utilize a one-step rust proofing process when the employer advertised to the public a two-step rust proofing process compelled claimant to participate in practices which were in clear violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, MCLA 445.901 et seq, MSA 19.418(1) et seq.

The Court adopted the reasoning of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania in Zinman v Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, 8 Pa Cmwlth 649, 305 A2d 380 (1973), in which the Court held that a legal duty to obey laws may constitute appropriate circumstances for an employee to voluntarily terminate employment and still qualify for unemployment compensation benefits. Claimant acted in good faith and as a reasonable person in terminating his employment rather than continue in an illegal practice. Claimant had good cause to resign, and this good cause was directly attributable to the employer.

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