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Bournique v Department of Justice (FBI) 12.86

Section 29(1)(b)

MISCONDUCT, Religious beliefs

CITE AS : Bournique v Department of Justice (FBI), Marquette Circuit Court, No. 90-25216-AE (March 1, 1991).

Appeal pending: No

Claimant: Robert Bournique

Employer: Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Docket No. UCFE89-01338-111929

CIRCUIT COURT HOLDING: A claimant who refused to perform work because of the dictates of his religion or his sincere belief that his religion required him to refuse to perform the work in question was not disqualified for benefits.

FACTS: The claimant worked for the FBI as a special agent. Over a period of time he changed his religious beliefs and concluded he should no longer be responsible for taking anyone's life. He decided he would no longer carry a weapon as required by FBI regulations. He also decided he would not participate in investigations which might lead to the imposition of the death penalty. The claimant requested an alternative assignment. Instead the employer asked for his resignation. He would have been discharged if he had not resigned. The claimant resigned under that duress.

DECISION: The claimant is not disqualified under Sections 29(1)(a) or 29(1)(b) of the Michigan Employment Security Act.

RATIONALE: The Board erred in concluding the claimant's testimony established that it was his individual convictions and not the dictates of his religion which prompted his resignation. But, even if the decision had been made as a result of the personal belief, conscience, or personal religious persuasion the court found the claimant had a right to unemployment benefits. The court noted:

A person has a right to unemployment compensation benefits as long as the person had a sincere belief that religion required him or her to refrain from the work in question; it matters not whether that sincere belief has its source in a tenet of a particular religious sect, or whether that sincere belief has some other source.


13,14: N/A

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