12. Misconduct

Smith v. DoC, MESC – 12.150

Smith v. DoC, MESC
Digest No. 12.150

Section 421.29(1)(b)

Cite as: Smith v Dep’t of Corrections, unpublished opinion of the Kent Circuit Court, issued April 1, 1996 (Docket No. 95-1797-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Wayne E. Smith
Employer: Michigan Department of Corrections
Docket no.: 95-1797-AE
Date of decision: April 1, 1996

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HOLDING: The claimant’s sleeping on the job and insubordination, by themselves, given the claimant’s position as a prison guard, are enough evidence to support a finding of misconduct disqualifying the claimant from benefits.

FACTS: The claimant worked for the employer as a prison guard. The claimant had a history of disciplinary counseling under the employer’s progressive disciplinary policy. The claimant was eventually discharged based on two instances of alleged misconduct, which included sleeping on the job and an incident of insubordination of a supervisor that involved the slamming of a door. The claimant was later reinstated.

DECISION: The circuit court affirmed the Board of Review’s decisions, which found the claimant to be disqualified for benefits due to misconduct under Section 29(1)(b) of the MES Act and Carter v MESC, 364 Mich 538 (1961).

RATIONALE: Sleeping on the job does not always constitute misconduct in some employment environments. However, the circuit court stated that the claimant’s position as a prison guard charged with supervising a large number of prisoners put him in a position of “unusual responsibility.” See Bell v. Employment Security Comm 359 Mich 649 (1960) (a fireman in a boiler room was deemed to have a position of unusual responsibility and his sleeping on the job constituted disqualifying misconduct). Given the nature of the claimant’s responsibility, his sleeping on the job and insubordination by themselves constituted disqualifying misconduct. Further, the claimant did not fall under the conditional language of Section 29(1)(b) that provided an employee whose discharge was later reduced is not disqualified for benefits, as that conditional language only applied to discharges for intoxication and not general misconduct.

Digest Author: Adam Kleven, Michigan Law, Class of 2018
Digest Updated: 1/6/2016

12. Misconduct

Carter v MESC – 12.01

Carter v MESC
Digest no. 12.01

Section 29(1)(b)

Cite as: Carter v MESC, 364 Mich 538 (1961).

Appeal Pending: No
Claimant: Arthur Carter
Employer: Detroit Lead Corporation
Docket no.: B59 2711 23422
Date of decision: November 30, 1961

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SUPREME COURT HOLDING: “[T]he employee’s refusal to carry out a foreman’s order, and his subsequent threat to punch the foreman in the nose” is misconduct.

FACTS: Claimant was employed by the Detroit Lead Corporation. He was assigned to operate a furnace. The claimant refused to obey an order of his foreman to shovel a pile of lead dust (dross) into the furnace and further, threatened to punch the foreman in the nose if the foreman shoveled the dross into the furnace.

DECISION: The claimant is disqualified for misconduct.

RATIONALE: The Court adopted the definition of misconduct set forth in Boynton Cab Company v Neubeck, 237 Wis 249 (1941): “[T]he term ‘misconduct’ … is limited to conduct evincing such wilful or wanton disregard of an employer’s interests as is found in deliberate violations or disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect of his employee, or in carelessness or negligence of such degree or recurrence as to manifest equal culpability, wrongful intent or evil design, or to show an intentional and substantial disregard of the employer’s interests or of the employee’s duties and obligations to his employer. On the other hand mere inefficiency, unsatisfactory conduct, failure in good performance as the result of inability or incapacity, inadvertencies or ordinary negligence in isolated instances, or good-faith errors in judgment or discretion are not to be deemed ‘misconduct’ within the meaning of the statute.”

“[A] refusal of an employee to carry out a reasonable order of his foreman, coupled with a threat to punch him in the nose when the foreman offered to do the work himself, is misconduct within the meaning of the statute. Such a response is both a wilful disregard of the employer’s interests and a deliberate violation of standards of behavior which an employer has a right to expect of his employee.”

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