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Gray v. Workforce West Virginia Board of Review

Supreme Court of West Virginia

August 25, 2017

Aleesha D. Gray, Petitioner Below, Petitioner
v.
Workforce West Virginia Board of Review, et al., Respondents Below, Respondents

         (Kanawha County 16-AA-24)

          MEMORANDUM DECISION

         Petitioner Aleesha D. Gray, pro se, appeals the June 30, 2016, order of the Circuit Court of Kanawha County affirming a March 23, 2016, order of Respondent Workforce West Virginia Board of Review ("Board") that disqualified petitioner from receiving unemployment benefits. The Board, by counsel Robert J. Smith, filed a summary response in support of the circuit court's order. Respondent West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority ("Regional Jail Authority"), by counsel Celeste Webb-Barber, also filed a summary response in support of the circuit court's order. Petitioner filed a reply.

         The Court has considered the parties' briefs and the record on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately presented, and the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument. Upon consideration of the standard of review, the briefs, and the record presented, the Court finds no substantial question of law and no prejudicial error. For these reasons, a memorandum decision affirming the circuit court's order is appropriate under Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure.

         Petitioner worked for the Regional Jail Authority as an administrative services assistant in the human resources department from November 1, 2010, to January 4, 2016. Petitioner resigned from her employment because she was admitted into the Charleston Area Medical Center ("CAMC") nursing program following being a part-time student at BridgeValley Community and Technical College ("BridgeValley"). While a part-time student at BridgeValley, petitioner was able to maintain her full-time position with the Regional Jail Authority. However, after petitioner was admitted into the CAMC program, she became a full-time nursing student. Consequently, once petitioner received her class schedule in November of 2015, she discussed with the Regional Jail Authority whether she could be a part-time administrative services assistant. The Regional Jail Authority believed that petitioner could not perform her job as a part-time employee because petitioner's class schedule would prevent her from working consecutive days.

At a February 9, 2016, administrative hearing, [1] petitioner testified regarding the Regional Jail Authority's position that she could not perform her job if she was prevented from working full-time:

. . . They felt that if I came in on like a Tuesday [following] a day off[, ] they would spend more time with me trying to bring me up to speed versus me just coming in and working. They have accommodated me really honestly as well as they can. It just wasn't going to work.
Now, if I had been a receptionist for them then yeah, possibly that would have worked, but because of the role that I led[, ] it's just impossible to keep up. They admitted to that. You know, that it was a full-time assignment. It was not a part-time assignment.

         Importantly, petitioner agreed with the Regional Jail Authority that she could not perform the duties of her position if she worked only part-time:

. . . [I]t's a full-time job and, you know, I handle[d] 5 jails. Another lady handled the other 5[, ] and plus I was the timekeeper for about 42 people making sure they're on the positive side of payroll.
So, you know, it's a lot of work. It is a full-time job. They are correct. It's impossible for me to come in 2 days a week and try to be brought up to speed [as] to what's going on.

         (Emphasis added.). Consequently, petitioner testified that she "decided [to] quit." The administrative law judge ("ALJ") asked petitioner whether her decision to quit was "voluntary." Petitioner answered "yes, sir."

         By order entered on February 12, 2016, the administrative law judge ("ALJ") found that petitioner quit her job voluntarily and disqualified her from receiving unemployment benefits pursuant to West Virginia Code § 21A-6-3(1). Petitioner appealed to the Board, which adopted the ALJ's decision by order entered on March 23, 2016. Petitioner appealed that order to the Circuit Court of Kanawha County, which affirmed the Board's decision by order entered on June 30, 2016. Petitioner now appeals from the circuit court's June 30, 2016, order affirming the Board's March 23, 2016, order that disqualified her from receiving unemployment benefits pursuant to West Virginia Code § 21A-6-3(1).

         West Virginia Code § 21A-6-3(1) provides as follows:

[A]n individual is disqualified for benefits . . . (1) [f]or the week in which he or she left his or her most recent work voluntarily without good cause involving fault on the part of the employer and until the individual returns to covered employment and has been ...

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