24 Frank Lloyd Wright Drive, Suite D2000
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105
Harvey Wax, employment attorney in Ann Arbor, achieved a significant victory for a Pear Sperling Eggan & Daniels, P.C. client. The client claimed that he was denied unemployment benefits in Michigan during the height of the pandemic. Mr. Wax was able to represent him and won the benefits to which he was entitled.
In the fall of 2020, the client quit his job as a commissioned furniture salesman with Love's Furniture in Ann Arbor. He filed for PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) benefits that were made available to "covered" individuals by the US CARES Act in early 2020. His benefits application was denied in November 2020 by the UIA because – they asserted – he didn't qualify under the Act's regulations. The UIA asserted that he failed to prove he quit and that his place of employment closed due to COVID-19.
In fact, the reason the client decided to quit a job he loved was because Love’s had stopped paying his sales commissions due to Covid's negative effect on the nation's supply chain (including shipments of furniture). Love’s stopped receiving shipments, and, according to company policy, commissions weren’t due to until furniture arrived at the warehouse and shipped to the customer. At the time he quit, Love's was experiencing severe financial hardship, also due to Covid's effect on its supply chain, eventually forcing it to declare bankruptcy and close its doors in January 2021.
Our client appealed the UIA denial decision, first to an administrative law judge and then to the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Commission. Both were denied and the UIA decision was affirmed. He appealed from those decisions to the Circuit Court with Harvey Wax on his side.
After considering the competing briefs of the client and the Attorney General and holding a Zoom hearing, Judge Kuhnke ruled at the end of the hearing on January 25, 2023, that the UIA, ALJ, and the UIAC had been wrong and that our client was entitled to weekly PUA benefits from and after November 2020.
Judge Kuhnke adopted our arguments that the client had been entitled to benefits under two different CARES Act benefit qualification rules, one of which authorizes benefits to someone who "quit a job because of Covid-19” and the other because "his place of employment had closed because of Covid-19".
The Judge remanded the case to the agency for them to determine the number of benefits that should have previously been paid to our client including the amount owed, including interest to date. While we don’t have a firm idea of what that amount will be, our best estimate, based on other unemployment cases Harvey Wax has handled in the past, is that it may be approximately $25,000 to $40,000.
The decision in this case is the first of its kind in Michigan.
Our attorneys are experienced in employment law and are happy to help you get the unemployment benefits you rightfully deserve. Feel free to contact our employment attorney in Ann Arbor to discuss your case.
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