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Washington v. Mississippi Dept. of Employment Security

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

September 24, 2013

Brenda WASHINGTON, Appellant
v.
MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, Appellee.

Page 163

Brenda Washington, appellant, pro se.

Albert B. White, Madison, Leanne Franklin Brady, attorneys for appellee.

Before LEE, C.J., ROBERTS and CARLTON, JJ.

LEE, C.J.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶ 1. Brenda Washington was terminated from her job in the DeSoto County School District. Washington thereafter filed for unemployment benefits with the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES). After investigating the matter, the MDES claims examiner determined Washington was disqualified from receiving benefits due to misconduct. The administrative judge (AJ) held a hearing and ultimately affirmed the decision of the claims examiner. The MDES Board of Review (the Board) also affirmed, adopting the AJ's facts and conclusions. Washington appealed to the DeSoto County Circuit Court, which affirmed the Board's decision.

¶ 2. Washington now appeals, asserting she is entitled to unemployment benefits because she did not commit misconduct.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶ 3. Our restrictive standard of review for administrative appeals is well known. In the absence of fraud and if supported by substantial evidence, an order from the Board on the facts is conclusive in the trial court. Miss. Emp't Sec. Comm'n v. PDN, Inc., 586 So.2d 838, 840 (Miss.1991). On appeal, employees have the burden of overcoming a rebuttable presumption in favor of the Board's decision. Miss. Emp't Sec. Comm'n v. Noel, 712 So.2d 728, 730 (¶ 5) (Miss.Ct.App.1998). The denial of benefits may be disturbed only if (1) unsupported by substantial evidence, (2) arbitrary or capricious, (3) beyond the scope of power granted to the agency, or (4) in violation of the employee's

Page 164

constitutional rights. Miss. Comm'n on Envtl. Quality v. Chickasaw Cnty. Bd. of Supervisors, 621 So.2d 1211, 1215 (Miss.1993).

DISCUSSION

¶ 4. In her only issue on appeal, Washington argues that she did not commit misconduct; thus, she should be awarded unemployment benefits. A definition of the term " misconduct" can be found in Wheeler v. Arriola, 408 So.2d 1381, 1383 (Miss.1982), which provides:

[T]he meaning of the term " misconduct," as used in the unemployment compensation statute, [is] conduct evincing such willful and wanton disregard of the employer's interest as is found in deliberate violations or disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect from his employee. Also, carelessness and negligence of such degree, or recurrence thereof, as to manifest culpability, wrongful intent or evil design, and showing an intentional or substantial disregard of the employer's interest or of the employee's duties and obligations to his employer, [come] within the term. Mere inefficiency, unsatisfactory conduct, failure in good performance as the result of inability or incapacity, ...

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