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Hodge v. United States Sec. Assocs., Inc.

Court of Appeals of Michigan

July 15, 2014

CARNICE HODGE, Claimant-Appellee,
v.
U.S. SECURITY ASSOCIATES, INC., Respondent-Appellant, And DEPARTMENT OF LICENSING & REGULATORY AFFAIRS/UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE AGENCY, Appellee

Editorial Note:

This opinion is subject to revision before final publication in the Michigan Court of Appeals reports.

Wayne Circuit Court. LC No. 12-001500-AE.

Before: O'CONNELL, P.J., and WILDER and METER, JJ.

OPINION

Wilder, J.

Respondent U.S. Security Associates, Inc., appeals by leave granted[1] a circuit court order reversing the decision by the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission (MCAC) that claimant was disqualified from unemployment insurance benefits under MCL 421.29(1)(b). On appeal, respondent argues that the circuit court applied the incorrect standard when reviewing the agency's decision and claimant should be disqualified from benefits for violating respondent's rules. We affirm.

I

Claimant worked for respondent as a security guard from September 21, 2008, to February 9, 2011, when respondent mailed her a notice of termination of employment for violating company rules and regulations on January 27, 2011.

Prior to the incident leading to her termination, on November 11, 2008, claimant signed an acknowledgement of respondent's " Security Officer's Guide," which provided, in relevant part, that the " [u]nauthorized use of client facilities or equipment, including copiers, fax machines, computers, the internet, forklifts and vehicles" may result in immediate termination.

While working at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in Concourse B, claimant was approached by an airline passenger seeking departure information. Claimant looked for that information on the computer near her post. Shortly after this incident, claimant received a call from the command center, and was informed that someone had anonymously complained about her use of the computer. Respondent drafted a disciplinary report, which claimant signed. Then, respondent told claimant she would be reassigned. But later, respondent reevaluated the incident and instead terminated claimant's employment in the February 9 letter.

Claimant filed a claim for unemployment benefits and a notice of determination denying her claim was issued on March 10, 2011. The notice provided:

You were terminated from U.S. Security on 1/28/11 for accessing the client's computer system which is a violation of company policy. You were aware of the policy.
It is found that you were fired for a deliberate disregard of your employer(s) interest. You are disqualified for benefits under MES Act, Sec. 29(1)(B).

Claimant filed an appeal of this notice of determination, and a hearing was conducted on July 13, 2011, by Administrative Law Judge Lawrence Hollens (ALJ). Claimant and respondent's employment specialist, Aramis Brown, appeared at the hearing without counsel.

Brown first testified that claimant was terminated for accessing the client's computer for flight information, which violated respondent's rules and regulations. The ALJ asked claimant:

ALJ : They say you used a client computer.
Claimant : Yes.
ALJ : Is that true?
Claimant : Yes, it is.
ALJ : Why would you do that?
Claimant : I used the client computer to help a passenger out. I --
ALJ : Was that your job?
Claimant : To help the passengers, yes.
ALJ : And so you're saying as part of your job, you would normally ...

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