MISCONDUCT, Conflict of interest, Connected with work, Off-duty relationship, Position of trust
CITE AS: Johnson v Ingham County, No. 84732 (Mich App March 12, 1987).
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Alfred G. Johnson
Employer: Ingham County
Docket No: B83 12607 95981W
COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: As an individual whose employment was dependent upon the maintenance of public trust the claimant's off-duty behavior was connected with his work and could be considered as a basis for disqualification under the misconduct provision of the MES Act, Section 29(1)(b).
FACTS: The claimant was employed as a court reporter. During the course of his employment the claimant dated an individual whose probation was being supervised by the court to which he was assigned. When the matter came to the attention of the judge, he advised the claimant the relationship constituted a conflict of interest and instructed the claimant to break off the relationship. The claimant promised to do so but, except for a brief interruption, continued to see the individual in question. When the matter again came to the judge's attention some months later the claimant was terminated.
DECISION: The claimant was found disqualified for benefits under the misconduct provision of the MES Act, Section 29(1)(b).
RATIONALE: The claimant was an individual whose job required the maintenance of public trust. By engaging in the relationship with an individual whose probation was being supervised by the court to which the claimant was attached the claimant engaged in a conflict of interest and created the appearance of impropriety. Further, the claimant continued in this relationship after being instructed to terminate it and after he indicated he would do so. The claimant's actions in this regard undermined his ability to maintain the public trust. Accordingly, the claimant's actions were found to be both work related and to have evidenced a wilful disregard for the employer's interest. Consequently the claimant was disqualified for benefits.