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Shaffer v Total Petroleum, Inc 12.109

Section 29(1)(b)

MISCONDUCT, Poor judgment, Work rules

CITE AS: Shaffer v Total Petroleum, Inc, Kent Circuit Court, No. 92-79538-AE (June 25, 1993).

Appeal pending: No

Claimant: Thomas Shaffer

Employer: Total Petroleum, Inc.

Docket No. B92-01922-121851W

CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: Where claimant violates an employer rule in the course of a good faith effort to assist a co-worker, his conduct should be characterized as an isolated error of judgment, rather than as misconduct.

FACTS: Claimant managed an employer gas station. His duties included preparing the station's cash receipts for deposit. The employer's policy required that cash receipts be prepared for deposit in a locked office. If he had to leave the office that cash was to be locked away and the door to the office locked. On the day in question, a "marauding band of thieves" entered the station. The cashier asked the claimant for assistance, and he left his office to assist her. The claimant left the cash on a desk in a bank deposit bag. When he returned to the office, the cash was gone. The claimant reported the theft. The police investigation exonerated the claimant, but the employer discharged him for violating company policy.

DECISION: The claimant is not disqualified for benefits under Section 29(1)(b).

RATIONALE: The employer alleged the claimant propped the door to the office open. The claimant denied that allegation. The court could not conclude whether or not the claimant propped the door open, but found that based on the facts that did not impact its holding. The court distinguished this matter from Bell v Employment Security Commission, 359 Mich 649(1960), because the claimant was acting in the employer's best interests when he left the office to assist the cashier. If he failed to assist the cashier he would have been subject to criticism or discipline. While he probably should have taken the time to secrete the cash, and should have checked to make sure the door locked, it is not clear whether there was a reasonable opportunity to do so. The claimant made an isolated error in judgment in deciding to help the cashier in a manner that violated another employer policy.


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