Categories
07. Eligibility - Able & Available

Winstead v MESC – 7.12

Winstead v MESC
Digest no. 7.12

Section 28(1)(c)

Cite as: Winstead v MESC, unpublished opinion of the Washtenaw County Circuit Court, issued February 19, 1980 (Docket No. 79 17067 AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Mary Winstead
Employer: N/A
Docket no.: B76 18265 57846, et al.
Date of decision: February 19, 1980

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: Insistence on time off to attend Wednesday night church services does not make a claimant unavailable for work.

FACTS: “In each of these decisions, the Board of Review affirmed decisions of referees which had held, in effect, that Ms. Winstead had not been ‘available to perform suitable full-time work’ within the meaning of the statute by reason of her insistence on attending Wednesday night worship services held by her church.”

DECISION: The claimant is available for work.

RATIONALE: “The MESC decisions below do not square with Sherbert v Vernor, 374 U.S. 398 (1963), and therefore are violative of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The decisions are also contrary to Swenson v MESC, 340 Mich 430 (1954), where the Michigan Supreme Court held that Seventh Day Adventists who could not work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday were ‘available for work’ within the meaning of the statute. The decisions are thus contrary to the law of this state as well as the Constitution of the United States.”

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

Categories
07. Eligibility - Able & Available

Swenson v MESC – 7.05

Swenson v MESC
Digest no. 7.05

Section 28(1)(c)

Cite as: Swenson v MESC, 340 Mich 430 (1954).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Bessie Swenson
Employer: Battle Creek Food Company
Docket no.: B1 1131 13361
Date of decision: September 8, 1954

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SUPREME COURT HOLDING: Claimants are not unavailable for benefits because they cannot work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

FACTS: Claimants, packers for Battle Creek Food Company, were laid off due to lack of work. The Commission denied benefits to Claimants, Seventh Day Adventists, on the basis that they were unavailable for work, since their religion forbid them from working from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Claimants had not been offered any employment, and therefore had never refused any.

DECISION: Claimants are eligible for benefits under the availability provision of the MES Act.

RATIONALE: The Supreme Court adopted the reasoning of the trial judge, stating that:

“To exclude such persons would be arbitrary discrimination when there is no sound foundation, in fact, for the distinction, and the purposes of and theory of the act are not thereby served. Seventh Day Adventists, as a matter of fact, do not remove themselves from the labor market by stopping work on sundown Friday and not resuming work until sundown Saturday, as is apparent from the reason that employers do hire them.”

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