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Conner v. Mississippi Department of Employment Security

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

May 15, 2018

KHLOE CONNER APPELLANT
v.
MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 04/24/2017

          JONES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SECOND JUDICIAL DISTRICT, HON. DAL WILLIAMSON TRIAL JUDGE.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: KHLOE CONNER (PRO SE)

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: ALBERT B. WHITE

          BEFORE IRVING, P.J., GREENLEE AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.

          GREENLEE, J.

         ¶1. The Mississippi Department of Employment Security's Board of Review (Board) affirmed the denial of unemployment benefits following Khloe Conner's termination from Dollar General. Conner appealed to the Circuit Court of the Second Judicial District of Jones County, which affirmed the Board's decision. Finding no error, we affirm the circuit court's judgment.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. On May 15, 2015, Conner began working at Dollar General as a lead sales associate. On September 30, 2016, Conner was terminated, in accordance with the company's workplace-violence policy, because she engaged in a physical altercation with a customer, during which she cut the customer with a box-cutter.

         ¶3. After her termination, Conner sought unemployment benefits, and a claims examiner investigated the reasons for her termination. Ultimately, the claims examiner denied Conner unemployment benefits finding that Conner was discharged from work for misconduct connected with her employment and was therefore disqualified from receiving benefits. Conner appealed the denial of her claim to an administrative-law judge (ALJ), who conducted a telephonic hearing.

         ¶4. During the hearing on Conner's appeal, Curtis Swires, the Dollar General store manager, testified that Conner was discharged from her job as a lead sales associate because she violated Dollar General's workplace-violence policy. He testified that Conner was aware of this policy and explained the policy indicated that Dollar General would not ignore, condone, or tolerate any disruptive, threatening, or violent behavior by any Dollar General employee, and such behavior could lead to termination.

         ¶5. Swires testified that on the day of the incident, Conner and a customer got into a verbal altercation after the customer asked for one of her items to be bagged. Following the verbal altercation, Swires testified that the customer told Conner she would be waiting on her outside and that Conner replied, "You don't have to. I'm on break. I will be right outside." Swires testified that he ordered Conner not to immediately go outside but wait five minutes for the customer to leave. However, Swires claimed that she ignored his order, and she waited only a minute and a half before going outside. Swires testified that about thirty seconds after Conner went outside he heard a "commotion" and went outside to investigate. Once outside, Swires claimed he witnessed Conner swinging at the customer and observed the customer bleeding from several areas of her body. The customer advised Swires that Conner had cut her with a box-cutter.

         ¶6. Next, Conner testified on her own behalf. She admitted that she had a verbal altercation with a customer, but denied that Swires told her to wait five minutes before going outside. She also testified that she went outside not knowing the customer was waiting on her and was attacked. She testified that she acted in self-defense and felt there was no other alternative to escape, so she picked up a box-cutter that was in her possession and cut the customer several times.

         ¶7. After concluding the hearing, the ALJ affirmed the claims examiner's denial of benefits, finding that Conner's conduct violated Dollar General's workplace-violence policy and rose to the level of misconduct. Conner, still aggrieved, sought review from the ...


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