MISCONDUCT, Single instance, Falsification of records, Curbstoning
CITE AS: Johnson v Michigan Consolidated Gas Co., No. 91185 (Mich App July 10, 1987); lv den 429 Mich 880 (1987).
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Rene Johnson
Employer: Michigan Consolidated Gas Co.
Docket No: B85 02164 99380W
COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: A single instance of falsification of records can support a disqualification for misconduct.
FACTS: Claimant was employed on a fulltime temporary basis as a collector. Her duties involved going to the homes of delinquent customers and either collecting the amount due or turning off the gas service and locking the meter. Claimant was discharged for leaving her route without permission, falsifying her records, and "curbstoning" a lock - a practice of reporting a shut off of gas service and the locking of a meter when in fact that did not occur. Claimant had not been disciplined for any prior violations of the employer's work rules.
DECISION: Claimant is disqualified under Section 29(1)(b).
RATIONALE: The court of appeals did not dispute the findings of fact that claimant had left her route without permission and altered her work records to reflect stops she did not make. Nevertheless the court concluded those violations did not amount to disqualifying misconduct under Carter.
The court did find the single instance of "curbstoning" to be misconduct. Although conceding there may have been legitimate reasons the claimant was unable to shut off the meter in question, claimant proceeded to report she had terminated gas service to that location though she had not. As a result the customer received two months of gas service. As demonstrated by the fact the employer maintains a special investigation unit to handle gas thefts, this is a matter of serious concern to the employer. Further, incorrect records can aid in the theft of gas and also contribute to billing errors and customer dissatisfaction. Taking all of these factors into account, misconduct was established.