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Seago v. Mississippi Department of Employment Security

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

March 3, 2015

TAMMY SEAGO, APPELLANT
v.
MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY AND THREE S. ENTERPRISES, INC., APPELLEES

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: PIKE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 09/24/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. DAVID H. STRONG JR. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: DENIED UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS.

TAMMY SEAGO, APPELLANT, Pro se.

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

BEFORE LEE, C.J., BARNES AND MAXWELL, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND GRIFFIS, P.JJ., BARNES, ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON AND FAIR, JJ., CONCUR. JAMES, J., CONCURS IN PART AND IN THE RESULT WITHOUT SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION.

OPINION

Page 393

MAXWELL, J.

¶1 The sawmill where Tammy Seago worked discharged her for insubordination. The cited defiance was her refusal to sweep her work area, a violation of the employer's work policy. Tammy sought unemployment benefits, claiming she did not have a broom and did not refuse to sweep. But the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) Board of Review found the employer's testimony more credible than hers. Based on its finding that Tammy's refusal to clean was misconduct, the Board denied benefits. Because credibility determinations are within the Board's authority and substantial evidence supported its decision, we affirm.

Facts and Procedural History

¶2 Tammy was employed by Three S. Enterprises, Inc. (" Three S., Inc." ), as a sawmill sorter for several[1] years until her termination on March 14, 2013. The claims examiner over her unemployment-benefits claim found she was disqualified from receiving benefits because she was discharged for misconduct.

¶3 Tammy appealed to the administrative law judge (ALJ), who held a telephonic hearing. Both Tammy and Three S., Inc.'s president, D.G. Seago--who is Tammy's uncle--testified during the hearing. Tammy claimed she did not refuse to sweep her work area. As Tammy put it, she did not have a suitable broom. Though she claimed all available brooms had broken handles, D.G. testified there was a suitable broom within ten feet of Tammy when she was told to sweep her area. But she just simply refused to sweep her workplace, so he terminated her.

¶4 D.G. also testified Tammy had refused to clean her work area three days earlier and she had been insubordinate in the past. According to D.G., the company manual--which is posted in the room where all employees clock in and out daily--emphasizes that an employee's refusal to perform an assigned work task can result in discharge. The ALJ found D.G.'s testimony more credible than Tammy's. The ALJ also determined Tammy was discharged for insubordination--misconduct sufficient to deny unemployment benefits.

¶5 Tammy appealed to the Board of Review. The Board adopted the ALJ's findings of fact and opinion and affirmed the denial of benefits. Tammy then appealed to the circuit court, which also affirmed. Tammy now appeals to this court.

Discussion

¶6 In reviewing the decision of the MDES, the Board's ...


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