12. Misconduct

Physicians Health Plan of Mid Michigan v. Chapman – 12.149

Physicians Health Plan of Mid Michigan v. Chapman
Digest No. 12.149

Section 421.29(1)(b)

Cite as: Physicians Health Plan v Chapman, unpublished opinion of the Ingham County Circuit Court, issued December 16, 2008 (Docket No. 08-628-AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Shanika Chapman
Employer: Physicians Health Plan of Mid Michigan
Date of decision: December 16, 2008

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HOLDING: It is misconduct as a matter of law when an insurance company employee committs insurance fraud in violation of her employer’s human resources manual.

FACTS: Claimant worked in customer service for the employer insurance company; her job duties included assessing claims and administering customers’ financial obligations. Claimant was fired after she revealed to her employer that she committed criminal fraud by filing a false claim against her car insurance company.

At the ALJ hearing, the employer cited its H.R. policy manual as permitting employee firings for criminal activity, which could harm the employer’s public image. But, the ALJ decided Claimant was still not disqualified from receiving benefits for misconduct. The Board of Review affirmed, citing the mandate to interpret the meaning of misconduct narrowly to avoid disqualification.

DECISION: Reversed. The Circuit Court determined that claimant’s conduct constituted misconduct connected with her work, disqualifying her from benefits.

RATIONALE: The Circuit Court surveyed various cases regarding whether off-duty conduct may be sufficiently connected to a claimant’s work to constitute misconduct. Ultimately, it concluded that, as a matter of law, the filing of a false insurance claim constituted a wanton disregard of the employer’s interests and standards of behavior. This behavior clouded Claimant’s ability to fulfill her job duties, particularly given her unique financial responsibilities; sufficiently involved the employer’s interests; and adversely affected the employer’s behavioral expectations of employees.

Digest author: Austin L. Webbert, Michigan Law, Class of 2017
Digest updated: 10-31-2017

12. Misconduct

Bowns v City of Port Huron – 12.12

Bowns v City of Port Huron
Digest no. 12.12

Section 29(1)(b)

Cite as: Bowns v City of Port Huron, 146 Mich App 69 (1985); lv den 424 Mich 899 (1986).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: John Bowns
Employer: City of Port Huron
Docket no.: B82 09389 RO1 84805W
Date of decision: October 7, 1985

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COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: A police officer’s off-duty conduct is sufficiently connected with his employment to justify denial of unemployment benefits.

FACTS: Claimant, a police officer/supervisor, was observed in a bar playing poker and conversing with a known “number’s man” and another person known to be a supplier of football game cards. The bar was being investigated by the Michigan State Police for sports betting, bookmaking and high stakes poker games. Claimant’s attendance at the bar was during his off-duty hours when he was not in uniform, nor carrying his weapon. The employer charged claimant with dereliction of duty for not reporting the activities at the bar.

DECISION: Claimant is disqualified for misconduct.

RATIONALE: Relying on Core v Traverse City, 89 Mich App 492 (1979), the court stated that illegal or improper conduct by employees in positions of public trust may undermine their ability to function in an official capacity and damage the prestige of the public employer. The court also adopted Cerceo v Darby, 281 A2d 251, 255 (1971): ” … We demand from our law enforcement officers, and properly so, adherence to demanding standards which are higher than those applied to many other professions … in both an officer’s private and official lives … ”

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

12. Misconduct

Saugatuck Village v Bosma – 12.22

Saugatuck Village v Bosma
Digest no. 12.22

Section 29(1)(b)

Cite as: Saugatuck Village v Bosma, unpublished opinion of the Allegan Circuit Court, issued March 16, 1983 (Docket No. 82-4417 AE).

Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Thomas Bosma
Employer: Saugatuck Village
Docket no.: B81 00101 78040
Date of decision: March 16, 1983

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CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: Where an employee is discharged for activities that occur while on medical leave, the separation is a non disqualifying discharge.

FACTS: The claimant was employed as a police officer. “While on medical leave, he was arrested and charged with two counts of assault and battery along with one count of driving under the influence of liquor.” Following his convictions of assault and battery and of careless driving, the claimant’s employment was terminated.

DECISION: The claimant is not disqualified for misconduct.

RATIONALE: “[C]ourts have consistently interpreted … disqualifying misconduct as requiring that the misconduct be connected to the employee’s work duties. Thus, in Reed v Employment Security Commission, 364 Mich 395 (1961), the Court determined that an employee discharged for violating a company rule which required discharge if the company were served with a second writ of garnishment was not disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. The Court reasoned that, to be disqualifying under the Act, the ‘rule and its violation must have some reasonable application in relation to the employee’s task’, Id. at 397.

“[T]his Court agrees that the Claimant’s activities were below the standards which the employer had a right to expect from the employee, and that his discharge was justified. However . . . the activities occurred (sic) while Claimant was on a medical leave, not while he was on duty or even eligible for such duty. Under the facts presented, this Court is unable to conclude that the … decision that Claimant was not disqualified from receiving benefits for his ‘misconduct’ was contrary to law.”

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