REMUNERATION, Wages, Disability payments, Equal protection
CITE AS: Barnett v Good Housekeeping Shop, No. 58582 (Mich App March 14, 1983); lv den 418 Mich 873 (1983).
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Rebekah Barnett
Employer: Good Housekeeping Shop
Docket No: O/P B78 53596 60992
COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: The distinction in Section 44(5)(a) and (c) of the MES Act as to the treatment of disability payments as wages depending on whether the disability benefits are paid directly to an employee or through a disability plan does not constitute a denial of equal protection.
FACTS: Claimant, a 12 year employee, was on a medical leave and received 26 weeks of medical disability benefits through a disability insurance plan provided by the employer. When her disability ended claimant's employment was terminated. She applied for unemployment benefits but had insufficient credit weeks because the disability payments were not considered wages under Section 44(5) because they were paid through an insurance plan rather than directly to the employee.
DECISION: Claimant does not have sufficient credit weeks to establish a claim because disability payments she received do not constitute wages under Section 44 of the Act.
RATIONALE: "Equal protection in its guarantee of like treatment to all similarly situated citizens permits classification which is reasonable and not arbitrary and which is based upon material and substantial differences which have reasonable relation to the object or persons dealt with and to the public purpose or purposes sought to be achieved by the legislation involved. The equal protection clause does not forbid discrimination with respect to things that are different. Gauthier v Campbell, Wyant & Cannon Foundry Co, 360 Mich 510, 514; 104 NW2d 182 (1960). We find as did the trial court, that the legislative purpose in the distinction of section 44 is to encourage the establishment of plans and systems which would financially aid workers when they are ill and disabled and for which unemployment benefits are not payable because the individual employees are not qualified under section 28 of the act, because they are not able and available for work due to the sickness or disability."