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Stratton v Fred Sanders 12.20

Section 29(1)(b)

MISCONDUCT DISCHARGE, Theft, De minimis doctrine, Dishonesty, Misappropriation of employer property, Prior warnings

CITE AS: Stratton v Fred Sanders, No. 20866, Wayne Circuit Court (December 1, 1965).

Appeal pending: No

Claimant: Vera Stratton

Employer: Fred Sanders

Docket No: B63 4573 31639

CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: The absence of the intent to steal in the mishandling of a small amount of employer's property prevents the offense "from being misconduct and renders it de minimis."

FACTS: "[T]he night store manager, Mrs. Langlois, observed a bulge under the pillow on a cot in the employees' washroom. She lifted the pillow and discovered a purse. Upon opening the purse, four bunches of lollipops, store merchandise, were found in the purse. The purse was identified as claimant's, and she was questioned as to how she had obtained the lollipops. During the interview, claimant offered to pay for the lollipops. Subsequently, claimant stated that she had purchased the lollipops at another company store." Following the employer's review of the matter, claimant was discharged.

DECISION: "[T]here is no unequivocal finding of dishonesty in the handling of the employer's property. For this reason the case is remanded for a new trial."

RATIONALE: "When the misconduct charged involves the mishandling of company property of very small value, the legal principle ... from a review of all the pertinent cases ... is this: For misconduct there must be dishonest handling of the property. Otherwise, the absence of intrinsic gravity in the offense or the absence of serious impact upon the employer prevents the incorrect handling of employer's property from being misconduct and renders it de minimis."

"[I]f there is dishonest handling of the employer's property there is misconduct, no matter how small the amount. The de minimis rule does not mean that a little thievery is all right."

The factual issue to be decided on remand below is whether there was "a dishonest handling or an innocent mishandling without intent to steal."



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