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A Better Partnership
July 16, 2014

COA affirms employee's claim for unemployment benefits, concluding that an airport security guard's use of a computer to aid a passenger was not disqualifying misconduct

In Hodge v. U.S. Security Associates, Inc., No. 311387, the Court was addressing a claim for unemployment insurance benefits from an employee of an airport security contractor.  The employer had a rule prohibiting employees from using client's equipment, including computers.  In this case, the employee used a client computer to look up flight information in response to a passenger's request and was subsequently terminated for breaching the employment policy.  An administrative law judge and the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission both upheld a determination that the employee was not entitled to unemployment insurance benefits because she had deliberately disregarded the employer's policy.  On appeal, the Circuit Court  reversed finding that the employee's conduct was simply an error in judgment in trying to reconcile her duty to help passengers and the policy against computer use and, thus, did not rise to the level of misconduct necessary to disqualify the employee from receiving benefits.  The Court of Appeals upheld the lower court finding that the question of whether the acts  (which were undisputed) rose to the level of misconduct was a question of law, and that the trial court did not err in concluding that the employee did not engage in misconduct under the Michigan Employment Security Act.

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