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St. Mary's Medical Center v Palmer 12.120

Section 29(1)(b)


CITE AS: St. Mary's Medical Center v Palmer, Saginaw Circuit Court, No. 98-022584-AE-1 (July 21, 1998).

Appeal pending: No

Claimant: Brenda Palmer

Employer: St. Mary's Medical Center.

Docket No. B97-01269-144783

CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: A comment to a supervisor threatening a "drive-by shooting" was disqualifying misconduct.

FACTS: Employer decided to change the employee break schedule to ensure patient coverage. Claimant was informed by her supervisor to take her break at the new time. Claimant refused to take her break at the new time and said: "I'll take my break when I usually take my break." The claimant then added: "If this gets back to Jill, I'll know where it came from, and there's going to be a drive-by shooting." Claimant's supervisor asked "What?" and the claimant responded "There's going to be a drive-by shooting." Claimant gave no indication she was joking or kidding. Claimant was suspended and only then did she indicate she intended her statement as a joke. Claimant was subsequently fired.

DECISION: Claimant is disqualified for misconduct.

RATIONALE: This case parallels the facts in Carter v MESC, 364 Mich 538 (1961) where the court found a refusal of an employee to carry out a reasonable order of his foreman, coupled with a threat to punch him in the nose was disqualifying misconduct. In this case the Referee and Board determined the claimant had made the threat but found that because the supervisor did not appear to be put in fear by the claimant, the claimant was not disqualified for misconduct. The court indicated "The analysis utilized to mitigate the threat's impact on [the claimant's supervisor] was both unnecessary under law, and unwarranted given the substantial evidence of the threat coupled with the claimant's insubordination. The proofs show claimant deliberately chose the words she used." The court found the claimant's statement about a drive-by shooting was a threat and as such was disqualifying misconduct.

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