Court rejects Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission denial of unemployment to woman who was too sick to work
Aisha Nichols was fired because she called in sick once too often. Her employer, Auto Club Services, Inc., had a zero tolerance "no fault" policy relating to excessive absenteeism. When she experienced a "thyroid storm" and called in sick, she was fired. She subsequently applied for unemployment. The employer stipulated that her absences were medically related, but argued that they constituted "misconduct" that rendered her ineligible for unemployment benefits under the more restrictive standard adopted by the Republican majority in the Legislature.
A Republican-appointee Administrative Law Judge agreed and the Republican-dominated MCAC affirmed that decision. She appealed and the Court of Appeals overturned the holding. The appellate judges noted that a "claimant's tardiness or absences cannot support a finding of statutory misconduct unless it is determined that they are without good cause." On that basis, her claim was remanded for further proceedings, where the employer will be required to show that Nichols' absence was willful. The judges cited precedent to the effect that "tardiness or absences resulting from events beyond the employee's control or which are otherwise with good cause cannot be considered conduct in willful or wanton disregard of the employer's interests."