MISCONDUCT, Evidence, Hearsay, Nolo Contendere plea, Connected with work
CITE AS: Lootens v Chrysler Corp, Macomb Circuit Court, No. 98-3409-AE (April 21, 1999)
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Randall Lootens
Employer: Chrysler Corporation
Docket No. MUL1998-52202-RO1-144738W
CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: A nolo contendere plea to criminal charges for activity off the employer’s premises may be considered in deciding whether claimant engaged in work-connected misconduct.
FACTS: Employer discharged claimant for violating company rules, which prohibited possession, distribution and/or sale of controlled substances on employer’s property. Claimant pled nolo contendere to a misdemeanor charge for behavior that did not occur on employer’s property.
DECISION: The claimant is disqualified under Section 29(1)(b).
RATIONALE: The Referee did not err in admitting and considering claimant’s nolo contendere plea. The general rules of evidence do not govern administrative proceedings. Doyle v Kammeraad, 310 Mich 233, 241 (1965). An administrative agency may consider and rely on hearsay evidence in making decisions. Spratt v Dep’t of Social Services, 169 Mich App 693, 701 (1988). The nolo contendere plea agreement to one charge involved the dismissal of a second charge of possession with intent to deliver cocaine. That second charge was predicated on employer’s witness purchase of crack cocaine from claimant inside employer’s facility. Employer’s witness also witnessed other instances of illegal activity involving claimant – his purchase of stolen items from another employee, his offer to sell Quaaludes to employer’s witness, and his sale of Tylenol 4 pills to employer’s witness. This demonstrates work-connected misconduct.
(Note: Also see Michigan Rules of Evidence (MRE) 404(b)(1) as to the admissibility of evidence of other crimes and 410(2) as to the admissibility of a plea of nolo contendere.)