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Jones v. Dir., Dep't of Workforce Servs.

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

August 27, 2014

MARGARET JONES, APPELLANT
v.
DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE SERVICES, and PACKERS SANITATION SVC INC. LTD., APPELLEES

Counsel Amended September 12, 2014.

APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS BOARD OF REVIEW. NO. 2014-BR-00084.

For Defendant/Respondent: Phyllis A. Edwards.

GRUBER and WOOD, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 86

BRANDON J. HARRISON, Judge.

Margaret Jones appeals the Arkansas Board of Review's decision to deny her unemployment benefits. The issue is whether Jones was discharged from Packers Sanitation for misconduct; if she committed misconduct, then she gets no benefits. But she did not engage in misconduct when she missed four days of work due to an undisputed illness that the employer knew about from the get go. So we reverse the Board's denial and remand for an award of benefits.

I.

Margaret Jones worked at Packers Sanitation from May 2011 until she was fired in October 2013. The circumstances of her firing were addressed during an Appeal Tribunal hearing in December 2013.

Jones was the only party who testified during the hearing, and she told the hearing officer that she was discharged because her employer said that she left work without permission. Jones said that she left work because she was sick and that a manager, Andre Johnson, was in the hallway when she was vomiting. Although she did not tell her immediate supervisor that she was leaving due to illness, Jones said that she told Johnson that she was ill and needed to go home and that Johnson held a position superior to Jones's immediate supervisor. The record does not contain a written attendance policy.

That Jones became ill at work is essentially undisputed. For when Jones told the hearing officer that a co-worker saw her vomiting and could testify what happened, the hearing officer replied: " Well, you've already testified to that, and your testimony is credible, so you don't need a witness for that." Jones was absent four days, and she testified that she called in each day she was absent. Nothing in the record contradicts Jones's memory that she kept her employer informed about the basic course of her illness.

Packers Sanitation told Jones that she needed to bring a doctor's excuse with her when she returned. Jones admittedly did not produce a note. According to Jones, her doctor would not accept her insurance because she had not met her deductible; and she could not otherwise afford the $200 visit.

The Appeal Tribunal's decision, which the Board adopted, stated:

The claimant was discharged by the employer for leaving her work without permission. The claimant provided testimony that although she did not notify her immediate supervisor, she did notify his supervisor. The claimant was absent for four days and failed to provide a doctor's excuse as advised by the employer. By being absent for four days without providing a doctor's excuse, the claimant's actions were not in the best interests of ...

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