10. Voluntary Leaving

Butler v City of Newaygo – 10.125

Butler v City of Newaygo
Digest No. 10.125

Section 421.29


Cite as: Butler v City of Newaygo, 115 Mich App 445 (1982).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Neil Butler
Employer: City of Newaygo
Date of decision: April 21, 1982

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HOLDING: There was ample evidentiary support for the administrative decision that the claimant was ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits under MCL 421.29(1)(a).

FACTS: Claimant was superintendent of sewers, superintendent of water, and superintendent for public works for the City of Newaygo. The city manager relieved Claimant of his duties as superintendent of public works. However, he retained his other positions, and his salary remained unchanged. Claimant did not oppose this change.

One day, the city manager reprimanded Claimant for providing municipal equipment to a private contractor without having first secured the proper authorization from the city manager. In that same month, someone broke into a city pump house and ruined the engine. Everyone, including Claimant, who had keys to the pump house was asked to take a lie detector test regarding this incident. However, the test was not administered. Claimant then resigned, alleging that he was forced to do so.

DECISION: The circuit court order affirming the ALJ’s denial of the requested benefits is affirmed. Regarding Claimant’s second issue on appeal about transcript fees, the court found that Claimant is entitled to immediate return of any money advanced by him for circuit court transcripts.

RATIONALE: The court reasoned that although the city manager removed Claimant from the public works superintendent position without following the proper procedures by securing a city council resolution on it, the removal without a council resolution did not constitute good cause to quit. In addition, the reprimand was not without basis in city policy, which is uncontested by Claimant. Thus, the reprimand did not constitute good cause to quit either.

Further, Claimant’s feeling that he was personally affronted by the request to take a lie detector test does not constitute good cause to quit. The test was not required, and refusal to take the test was not met with threats for disciplinary action. Claimant objected to the lie detector test only because he felt unjustly accused for the pump’s damage, which is not good cause for quitting.

The court also rejected Claimant’s assertion that he was “‘compelled’ by the ‘iron hand of the tyrant [i.e., his employer]’” to resign, because it was not supported by the record. Awarding the Claimant unemployment insurance benefits would have undermined the legislative policy to combat the burden of involuntary employment under MCL 421.29(1)(a).

Digest author: Rita Samaan, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: October 25, 2017