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Thomas v. Mississippi Department of Appellee Employment Security

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

November 4, 2014

BETTY W. THOMAS APPELLANT
v.
MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF APPELLEE EMPLOYMENT SECURITY

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/24/2014.

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: BOLIVAR COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ALBERT B. SMITH III. AFFIRMED THE DECISION OF THE BOARD OF REVIEW OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY THAT APPELLANT WAS DISCHARGED FOR MISCONDUCT AND WAS NOT ENTITLED TO UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED - 11/04/2014.

BETTY W. THOMAS, APPELLANT, Pro se.

FOR APPELLEE: ALBERT B. WHITE, LEANNE FRANKLIN BRADY.

BEFORE LEE, C.J., ROBERTS AND CARLTON, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, CARLTON, MAXWELL AND FAIR, JJ., CONCUR. JAMES, J., DISSENTS WITHOUT SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION.

OPINION

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - STATE BOARDS AND AGENCIES

Page 234

ROBERTS, J.

¶1. In May 2013, Betty W. Thomas was discharged from her employment with the Cleveland School District for refusing to or failing to follow directives given by her immediate supervisor. She sought unemployment benefits through the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES), and the administrative law judge (ALJ) denied her request for benefits because her actions leading to discharge constituted misconduct. Thomas appealed to the Board of Review, which adopted the ALJ's findings and affirmed the denial of unemployment benefits. Thomas then appealed to the Bolivar County Circuit Court; it also affirmed the denial of unemployment benefits. She now appeals to this Court for a review of whether the denial of unemployment benefits was proper. We find no error; therefore, we affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2. Thomas began working for the Cleveland School District as an administrative assistant on July 22, 2008, until she received a letter in May 2013, stating that her contract would not be renewed for the upcoming year.

¶3. Following her termination, Thomas filed for unemployment benefits. A claims examiner investigated her request and determined that she was not eligible for unemployment benefits due to " disqualifying misconduct." Thomas appealed the claims examiner's finding, and a telephonic hearing with an ALJ was held on August 14, 2013. Betty Jones, an executive assistant with the Cleveland School District, and Diane Hill, a principal with the Cleveland School District, both testified at the hearing that Thomas's nonrenewal was based on her failure to perform her duties properly, as well as other acts of insubordination and unprofessional behavior. Hill testified that Thomas received three written warnings: August 2010, July 2011, and August 2012. Her warnings were based on her refusal to complete paperwork as requested by Hill and for interrupting a meeting and becoming loud and rude. The final incident occurred in May 2013 when Hill asked Thomas to complete paperwork, but Thomas refused saying it was not part of her job description. Thomas testified that she performed her assigned duties as requested, and that her contract was not renewed because she refused to retire in May 2013. Subsequent to the hearing, the ALJ found: " The facts show that the employer discharged . . . [Thomas] because she repeatedly refused or failed to follow the directive given by her immediate supervisor. . . . Therefore, . . . [Thomas's] refusal to perform her assigned job duties was a willful disregard of the employer's best interest, which constitutes misconduct . . . ."

¶4. Thomas appealed to the Board of Review, and it found that " after careful review and consideration of all the evidence, the Board of Review adopts the Findings of Fact and Opinion of the . . . [ALJ,] and hereby affirms the decision." Thomas then appealed to the circuit court. The circuit court entered an order on January 27, 2014, affirming the Board of Review's decision. Thomas then ...


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