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Empire Iron Mining Partnership v Orhanen 15.35

Section 29(8)

LABOR DISPUTE, Requalification, Interim employment, Objective requirements, "Make-work"

CITE AS: Empire Iron Mining Partnership v Orhanen, 455 Mich 410 (1997)

Appeal pending: No

Claimant: Peter Orhanen et al; Donald Asmund et al

Employer: Empire Iron Mining Partnership

Docket No. B91-02538-RO1-118700W

SUPREME COURT HOLDING: Workers who obtain short term interim employment during a labor dispute can requalify for benefits if they satisfy the objective requirements of Section 29(8)(b). Work for multiple employers does not bar requalification under Section 29(8)(b). There is no subjective "good faith" requirement imposed on the Section 29(8)(b) criteria.

FACTS: During a strike which lasted from July 31-December 1, 1990, sixteen striking employees obtained interim employment for at least two weeks and earned wages equal to or greater than their benefit rate. Some of the employees got jobs through the union hall and worked for multiple employers. When laid off from these interim jobs these workers applied for unemployment benefits. The questions raised are (1) whether or not employment with multiple employers satisfies the statutory requirement that the individual perform services with "an employer" and (2) whether or not there is an implicit requirement that the interim work be accepted in "good faith" and not solely for the purpose of perfecting an unemployment claim.

DECISION: Claimants met the requalification requirements and are entitled to benefits.

RATIONALE: The Act does not require claimants to work for a single employer in order to requalify via rework under Section 29(8)(b). When read in the context of other sections of the MES Act, it is apparent that "an employer" includes multiple employers. There is no implicit requirement that claimants have to show they accepted interim employment in "good-faith." The requirements for requalification are objective and the Act does not contemplate investigation of a claimant's subjective motivation. "Given the remedial purpose of the MEA and the potential to overload the system if subjective criteria were adopted, we will not tread where the Legislature has refused to go. Inquiry into the subjective elements of an employee's employment is outside the bounds of the act."


11, 12, d3: H

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