Court finally imposes some reasonable restrictions on Republican re-definition of "insubordination" used to deny unemployment benefits
U. S. Security Assoc., Inc. attempted to deny unemployment benefits to its fired security officer, Hodge, after she used a computer terminal to access information for a customer. Hodge sought unemployment benefits post-discharge, arguing that at worst, her attempt to secure information for a customer in violation of the employer's policy, was "mere negligence" in interpreting two conflicting employment policies. The employer argued that under Michigan's relatively new, Republican-initiated unemployment benefits policy, Hodge should be denied any unemployment benefits because her effort to access information for the customer was "insubordinate."
The adminstrative judge (most likely appointed by a Republican) hearing Hodge's appeal of her denial of benefits upheld the employer's objection and ruled that Hodge did not meet the statutory rules on entitlement to unemployment because she had violated a written policy of her employer. The Circuit judge who reviewed the decision overturned the ALJ and held that the statutory amendment eliminating unemployment for "insubordinate" employees was not so broad as to include this kind of error by an employee. The Court of Appeals affirmed, noting that Hodge was faced with competing employment policies, (i.e., help a customer as needed or avoid accessing the computer) and while she could be fired for her errant choice, it did not disqualify her from statutory unemployment benefits. Even under Republican interpretations of the rule, this was not "misconduct" by Hodge.