10. Voluntary Leaving

White v. Meritain Health, Inc. – 10.123

White v. Meritain Health, Inc.
Digest No. 10.123

Section 421.29

Cite as: White v Meritain Health, Inc, unpublished opinion of the Ingham County Circuit Court, issued July 17, 2015 (Case No. 14-1432-AA).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Amy White
Employer: Meritain Health, Inc.
Date of decision: July 17, 2015

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HOLDING: Whether a claimant voluntarily quit his/her job is a two-pronged analysis according to MCL 421.29(1)(a). The test was further clarified by the Michigan Supreme Court in Warren v Caro Community Hospital, 457 Mich 361 (1998). The ALJ failed to apply the two-pronged voluntary leaving test in this case.

FACTS: Claimant felt threatened by her ex-husband, who had a history of abusive behavior towards her. Claimant obtained a Personal Protection Order against her ex-husband and took steps to hide her home and work addresses from him. Claimant’s ex-husband showed up at her work (Meritain Health) one day and parked at a neighboring lot. Claimant felt threatened and informed her direct supervisor, who did not offer any help but told Claimant that she “needed to deal with her personal issues on her own time.” The employer’s protocol prevented Claimant from bringing the issue to any other supervisor. Claimant’s ex-husband returned to the parking lot next to her job a second time. Having no supervisor to turn to, Claimant submitted her two weeks’ notice of quitting because she did not feel safe on the premises anymore.

DECISION: The ALJ acted contrary to law when he failed to address whether Claimant’s separation from her job was voluntary. The case was remanded to the ALJ to apply the Warren v. Caro Community Hospital test and find whether the Claimant’s employment separation was voluntary.

RATIONALE: The Court reasoned that MCL 421.29(1)(a) clearly states there are two factors to analyze: (1) whether an individual left work voluntarily and, if so, (2) whether the voluntary leaving was with good cause attributable to the employer. Thus, the Court found the ALJ did err when he failed to conclude whether Claimant’s separation from her job was voluntary.

The term “voluntary” in this context “connotes a choice between alternatives which ordinary persons would find reasonable. Clark v North Detroit General Hospital, 179 Mich App 511, 515-16 (1989) aft’d 437 Mich 280 (1991). This reasonableness standard was part of the ALJ’s assessment of the standard for good cause attributable to the employer. This is evident by the ALJ’s statement that good cause would 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, 396-97 (1986) (quoting).

Digest author: Rita Samaan, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: 10/31/2017

16. Procedures/Appeals

Pool v R S Leasing, Inc – 16.69

Pool v R S Leasing, Inc
Digest no. 16.69

Section 32a

Cite as: Pool v R S Leasing, Inc, unpublished opinion of the Wayne Circuit Court, issued May 3, 2002, (Docket No. 01-138871-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Brinda J. Pool
Employer: R. S. Leasing, Inc.
Docket no.: B2001-08251-159781W
Date of decision: May 3, 2002

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: Where claimant’s late protest was attributable to her parents’ medical problems, good cause for reconsideration was established.

FACTS: On January 2, 2001 claimant received a determination holding her disqualified. The Agency received claimant’s protest on March 12, 2001. The Agency requested an explanation for the untimely protest. Claimant disclosed that she had been out of town because her parents were ill. The Agency denied her request for redetermination. Claimant testified that after she received the determination, she left town to care for her parents, both seriously ill. She thought she would return before the 30-day appeal period expired, but did not return until February 28, 2001. She mailed her protest after the 30-day appeal period expired. She did not mail the protest before leaving town because her main concern was her parents’ health. The Board found she failed to show good cause for her late protest.

DECISION: The claimant demonstrated good cause for her late appeal of the Agency’s determination.

RATIONALE: The plain language of Rule 270(1) provides that the “Rule’s [specific] list of grounds for finding good cause is not exclusive,” and Rule 210(2)(e)(v) provides that “[g]ood cause for late filing of a new, additional, or reopened claim” includes “[p]ersonal physical incapacity or the physical incapacity or death of a relative . . ..” Reading the two Rules together leads to the conclusion good cause was established.

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

10. Voluntary Leaving

Leeseberg v Smith-Jamieson Nursing, Inc – 10.44

Leeseberg v Smith-Jamieson Nursing, Inc
Digest no. 10.44

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Leeseberg v Smith-Jamieson Nursing, Inc, 149 Mich App 463 (1986).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Judy Leeseberg
Employer: Smith-Jamieson Nursing, Inc.
Docket no.: B83 20309 94897
Date of decision: February 19, 1986

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: An employee is subject to disqualification for voluntary leaving when she deliberately fails to report to work for compelling personal reasons with foreknowledge her employment might end if she fails to report.

FACTS: Claimant’s husband sustained serious injuries in an accident. Claimant twice phoned her employer to inform them she desired to remain home to care for him. She requested an indefinite leave of absence but the request was denied. She was told her position could not be held open and a replacement would be hired.

DECISION: Claimant is disqualified for voluntary leaving.

RATIONALE: “‘Voluntary’ connotes a choice between reasonable alternatives, Lyons v Employment Security Comm, 363 Mich 201 (1961) … Plaintiff chose to face termination because she wanted to care from her injured husband. While plaintiff’s choice was prompted by compelling personal reasons, a good personal reason does not equate with good cause under the statute.”

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

10. Voluntary Leaving

Lyons v MESC – 10.51

Lyons v MESC
Digest no. 10.51

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Lyons v MESC, 363 Mich 201 (1961).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Charles Lyons
Employer: Chrysler Corporation
Docket no.: B57 5079 20232
Date of decision: April 26, 1961

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SUPREME COURT HOLDING: Section 29(1)(a) is applicable to separations from work outside of Michigan. The finding that claimant left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the employer was supported by the evidence.

FACTS: The claimant was laid off from one of the employer’s Michigan plants. After receiving a few weeks of unemployment benefits, he accepted work at the employer’s Indiana plant, 273 miles from home. The car he relied on broke down, the friend with whom he planned to commute quit, he did not receive expected overtime, and he learned his minor son had left home. He resigned the Indiana employment to return to Michigan. He was denied further benefits as his leaving was voluntary without good cause attributable to the employer.

DECISION: The claimant is disqualified for voluntary leaving.

RATIONALE: The application of Section 29(1)(a) to separations from work outside of Michigan is consistent with the language of that Section as well as those parts of the Act which provide for reciprocal agreements between states for one state to pay accrued benefits to an employee after he has moved to another state and become unemployed. A contrary interpretation would impose more stringent standards on employees working wholly in Michigan than those whose employment takes them outside the state.

The justices split on the question of the voluntariness of the leaving. Three justices stated the leaving was for wholly personal reasons and, as a matter of law, was voluntary and without good cause attributable to the employer. Two justices agreed with the disqualification but viewed the issue of voluntariness as one of fact which had been decided against the claimant on the basis of evidence which supported the finding. Three justices, in an opinion by Justice Edwards, concluded that, as a matter law, the leaving was involuntary. (See Laya v Cebar Construction Company, 101 Mich App 26 (1980), Digest No. 10.05. Therein, the court adopted Justice Edwards’ standard for determining the voluntariness of a separation.)

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