Supreme Court overturns trial judge and Court of Appeals; upholds denial of unemployment benefits to security officer
Carnice Hodge, a security officer at Detroit Metro, accessed a client computer to provide a travel with publicly-available flight information. Her employer fired her. It also rejected her claim for unemployment benefits, arguing that under the recently re-written Republican rules governing unemployment benefits, she was guilty of misconduct that disqualified her from receiving benefits. The politically-staffed Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission (MCAC) agreed with her employer that since she was aware that she was not to access a client computer for any reason, she had been insubordinate and was ineligible for unemployment.
Hodge appealed to the Circuit Court which reversed the MCAC decision. Hodge's employer appealed to the Court of Appeals, which agreed with the trial judge that merely accessing a computer to provide publicly available information to a traveler was not the type of conduct which should disqualify an employer from receiving unemployment benefits. The Michigan Supreme Court accepted the employer's appeal and overturned the lower court judges. The Justices held that the judges who overturned the MCAC were not authorized to substitute their interpretation of the applicable statute for the interpretation of the hearing officer and MCAC. They were, in short, acting too much like judges--attempting to discern what is fair and reasonable.