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Cite as: Myllylahti v Full Force Diamond Drilling, unpublished opinion of the Ontonagon County Circuit Court, issued February 9, 2010 (Docket No. 09-71 AE).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

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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

Categories
10. Voluntary Leaving

Bis v Electronic Data Systems – 10.86

Bis v Electronic Data Systems
Digest no. 10.86

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Bis v Electronic Data Systems, unpublished per curiam opinion of the Court of Appeals, issued March 8, 1995 (Docket No. 156482).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Lawrence C. Bis
Employer: Electronic Data Systems Corporation
Docket no.: B90-16245-117532W
Date of decision: March 8, 1995

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: The employer did not make working conditions so unpleasant that a reasonable person in the claimant’s shoes would have felt compelled to resign for reasons attributable to the employer.

FACTS: As a condition of hire, the employer required claimant to complete a three-phase training program. The claimant successfully completed the first phase but resigned after completing two weeks of the second phase. The second phase required participants to work fifteen to sixteen hours per day, seven days per week, for ten weeks, to test their physical and mental stamina. The employer allowed three warnings regarding performance during the second phase before a participant would be discharged. Claimant experienced physical and emotional problems during the second phase, but did not inform his supervisor. Rather, he expressed doubts about his ability to continue and requested to return to phase one. The claimant had not fallen behind in the second phase or received a performance warning. The claimant’s supervisor informed him that if he did not complete the second phase he would be terminated. The claimant concluded he had no choice but to resign or face termination, so he decided to resign.

DECISION: The claimant is disqualified for benefits.

RATIONALE: The “good cause” standard essentially asks “whether an employee left work with `cause of a necessitous and compelling nature.'” Cooper v University of Michigan, 100 Mich App 99, 105 (1980). The claimant’s self-doubts ultimately led him to resign. The claimant was entitled to three performance warnings, and had not received any warnings before resigning. His supervisors believed he could successfully complete the program. Nothing indicated the claimant was incapable of successfully completing the second phase.

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated:
 7/99

Categories
10. Voluntary Leaving

Sempliners Formalwear v Leifer – 10.60

Sempliners Formalwear v Leifer
Digest no. 10.60

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Sempliners Formalwear v Leifer, unpublished opinion of the Bay County Circuit Court, issued February 14, 1995 (Docket No. 94-3420-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Debra J. Leifer
Employer: Sempliners Formalwear
Docket no.: B92-31007-124907W
Date of decision: February 14, 1995

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: Claimant is not subject to disqualification where she left her employment, and the state, to ensure her personal safety from her husband who was also co-owner of the employer.

FACTS: The claimant worked for the employer from February 1990, to February 1992. The claimant was married to the president and part-owner of the employer. The claimant and her husband wintered in their home in Florida. The claimant had the practice of working full-time for the employer out of her Florida home. In spring of 1991, the claimant and her husband returned to Michigan. The claimant’s husband became threatening towards her and other employees. The employer took steps to remove the claimant’s husband from his office and to prohibit him from entering the business. The claimant informed the employer she planned on staying in Florida permanently because she feared for her safety and wanted to avoid her husband. Her husband hit her at work, threatened her, closed their joint checking account, changed the locks on their Michigan residence, and confiscated her car.

DECISION: The claimant is not disqualified for benefits.

RATIONALE: This matter is an “unusual and unique case in that the claimant’s employer is her husband.” This unique relationship resulted in the employer, through the claimant’s husband, exerting an inordinate amount of control over the claimant’s professional and personal life. The claimant had the practice of staying in Florida during the winter months and working out of her Florida home. The claimant did not intend to resign but informed the employer she intended to work from Florida as was her practice. The employer did not notify the claimant that she would compromise her employment by remaining in Florida.

It is the duty and responsibility of a party, not the court, to search for and uncover legal authority in support of the party’s argument.

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated: 
7/99

Categories
10. Voluntary Leaving

Carswell v Share House, Inc – 10.16

Carswell v Share House, Inc
Digest no. 10.16

Section 29(1)(a)

Cite as: Carswell v Share House, Inc, 151 Mich App 392 (1986).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Elizabeth Carswell
Employer: Share House, Inc.
Docket no.: B83 10743 91926W
Date of decision: May 5, 1986

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COURT OF APPEAL HOLDING: An employee who tenders a resignation effective immediately rather than work a two week notice period offered by the employer has voluntarily terminated employment. A reasonable person standard should be applied when determining “good cause” under Section 29(1)(a).

FACTS: Claimant, a secretary, had expressed dissatisfaction about her wages. After being told she would not be getting an increase, she expressed her intention to look elsewhere for employment. Several days later the employer gave claimant a letter accepting her “offer to voluntarily quit”. The letter went on to indicate claimant’s replacement would start in two weeks and claimant could work until then. Later that same day claimant submitted a letter of resignation effective immediately.

DECISION: Claimant voluntarily left her employment. Remanded by the court for fact finding as to whether claimant had good cause attributable to the employer.

RATIONALE: “[W]e find that there is little doubt that plaintiff left her employment voluntarily. Although she had an opportunity to continue her employment for two weeks, she tendered her resignation effective immediately. Plaintiff was not under any legal, economic, or physical compulsion to leave her job, nor is there any evidence in the lower court record indicating that she did so unintentionally.”

“The real question presented to us is whether plaintiff’s leaving of her job was ‘without good cause attributable to the employer.’ … ‘Good cause’ as used in MCL 421.29(1)(a); MSA 17.531(1)(a), has not been defined…. We find that the ‘reasonable man’ standard properly effectuates the legislative intention behind MCL 421.29(1)(a); MSA 17.531(1)(a). Under that standard, ‘good cause’ compelling an employee to terminate his employment should be found where an employer’s actions would cause a reasonable, average, and otherwise qualified worker to give up his or her employment.”

Digest Author: Board of Review (original digest here)
Digest Updated: 6/91