PRESERVATION OF CREDIT WEEKS, Estoppel, Misled by Commission employees
CITE AS: Michigan Bell Telephone Co. v Wiersma, 156 Mich App 176 (1986).
Appeal pending: No
Claimant: Linda Wiersma
Employer: Michigan Bell Telephone
Docket No: B82 5578 84393
COURT OF APPEALS HOLDING: Even though claimant failed to request to preserve credit weeks within 45 days, she made diligent attempts to file and was misled by the MESC. As such the MESC is estopped from denying her entitlement to preserve credit weeks.
FACTS: On 1-26-81 claimant was placed on an approved disability leave for back problems until 4-4-81. Claimant was then on 3 weeks vacation and subsequently began a pregnancy related disability leave. While on leave, claimant was told the employer was closing the office where she had worked. Claimant contacted the MESC by phone and twice in person and was informed she needed to be willing and able to work and be unemployed; and 10-1-81 was the last day she could file for benefits. Her child was born 9-27-81 and she was released to return to work 12-3-81. When claimant applied for benefits she was denied because of insufficient credit weeks. Despite opportunities before and after she applied, the MESC never explained to her about preservation of credit weeks.
DECISION: Claimant is entitled to preserve credit weeks under Section 28a.
RATIONALE: Claimant diligently sought to preserve her rights, but she was affirmatively misled by the MESC. "We hold, under the circumstances of this case, that the MESC cannot misinform a claimant in regard to her rights or the appropriate procedures to take and then deny her benefits because she did not know her rights or because she took inappropriate procedural steps. Second, the MESC may be equitably estopped in this case. An equitable estoppel arises where: (1) a party by representations, admissions or silence induces another party to believe facts; (2) the other party detrimentally relies and acts on this belief; and (3) the other party will be prejudiced if the first party is allowed to deny the existence of the facts.... Information regarding a claimant's ability to obtain benefits may well be considered a "fact" in this context where the bureaucracy of an administrative agency is involved."
6, 11, d3:C