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Neal v Light Corp 16.51

Section 29(1)(b)

APPEALS, Circuit court standard of review, Board standard of review, De novo fact finding, Insubordination

CITE AS: Neal v Light Corp., unpublished per curiam, Court of Appeals, December 1, 1998 (No. 202007).

Appeal Pending: No

Claimant: Shirley Neal

Employer: Light Corporation

Docket No. B94-18326-135365

COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: Where employer contested claimant's application for unemployment benefits after she was fired for refusing a work assignment, Circuit Court used improper standard of review when it reversed the Board of Review.

FACTS: Claimant, a long term employee, was sent home after refusing a work assignment. Next day claimant said she refused due to medical condition. She was fired. Agency denied benefits. Referee reversed, granted benefits. Board of Review reversed, found claimant refused reasonable order without adequate justification (claimant had been released to work with restrictions). The Circuit Court reversed the Board and held claimant not disqualified. It determined the referee was the fact finder and applied the substantial evidence test to the referee decision. The court found the referee decision was supported by uncontested evidence of claimant's medical condition.

DECISION: Claimant disqualified. Board of Review decision reinstated.

RATIONALE: While Section 34 does not expressly state the standard of review the Board of Review is to apply to referee decisions, it is clear 1) such review is "beyond de novo" inasmuch as the Board is permitted to consider evidence not presented to the referee, and 2) the MES Act does not require the Board to give deference to the referee's fact finding.

As to the competent, material and substantial evidence standard contained in Section 38 which is to be used by circuit courts reviewing Board of Review decisions, three principles are significant: 1) A reviewing court is not to displace the Board's choice between two reasonably differing viewpoints. 2) Substantial evidence is that which a reasonable mind would accept as adequate to support a decision. 3) Where there is sufficient evidence to support the Board's findings, a reviewing court must not substitute its discretion for that of the Board, even if the court would have reached a different result. The circuit court violated each of these principles and also erred by applying the substantial evidence test to the referee decision rather than the Board decision.

Claimant's insubordination was complete after the first instance in which plaintiff refused the order to pack without offering a medical excuse.


24, 16, d22: K

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