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King v. Mississippi Department of Corrections

September 01, 1998

VICKIE D. MCLEOD KING, APPELLANT
v.
MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, APPELLEE



Before McMILLIN, P.j., Hinkebein, And Southwick, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: McMILLIN, P.j.

King v. Mississippi Department of Corrections, 96-CC-01040-COA, __ So. 2d

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/26/96

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. BILL JONES

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: GREENE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - STATE BOARDS AND AGENCIES (OTHER THAN WORKERS' COMPENSATION)

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED THE ORDER OF THE EMPLOYEE APPEALS BOARD

1. Vickie McLeod King appeals from the decision of the Circuit Court of Greene County which upheld the order of the Mississippi Appeals Board finding that McLeod was properly terminated from her employment with the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

2. On appeal McLeod raises the issue of whether her termination was a denial of fundamental fairness and, therefore, a denial of substantive due process. We find no error and affirm the decision of the circuit court.

FACTS

3. McLeod was employed by the Mississippi Department of Corrections in 1994. She submitted a request for leave of absence without pay for the period March 14, 1994, through September 30, 1994, indicating that she desired to join her new husband in Georgia where he was working on a construction job. The request was denied because her absence could not be satisfactorily covered by the one other employee stationed at the warehouse where McLeod worked.

4. McLeod then filed a request for unpaid leave of absence for approximately one month under the Family and Medical Leave Act. She supported her request with a note from her physician stating that McLeod was "[e]xcused from work for medical reasons for one month." Department of Correction officials told McLeod that more specific information was needed from her regarding the nature of her illness so that a proper determination of eligibility for medical leave could be made. She was provided with a certification form that required the physician to state the diagnosis and reason the employee was absent, the course of treatment, whether the employee could or could not work in any capacity during the absence, and other pertinent information. The certification form was designed to be signed by both the physician and the employee; each thereby certifying to the accuracy of the information. Alton Ellis, a personnel officer for the Department of Corrections, testified that he gave the certification form to McLeod on March 10 and explained the form to her again by telephone the next day. McLeod was told that the certification had to be returned within fifteen days of her original request for medical leave. McLeod, without returning the form, elected to absent herself from work immediately, apparently on the assumption that her leave request would ultimately be ruled on favorably.

5. McLeod delivered the required form to the Department on the fifteenth day; however, it was not signed by the physician or McLeod. The Department returned the form to the absent McLeod by certified mail with a letter explaining that, in its present state, the request form was unacceptable. The letter gave her until March 30, 1994, to properly complete and return the form.

6. On April 11, 1994, the Department received the return receipt showing delivery of the certified letter. The receipt indicated that the letter, addressed to McLeod's address in Leaksville, had been forwarded to a Georgia address. On April 13, 1994, nearly two weeks after the deadline, the Department finally ...


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