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

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

June 17, 2015

CASSIE JOHNSON, APPELLANT
v.
DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE SERVICES AND ARKANSAS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, APPELLEES

APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS BOARD OF REVIEW. No. 2014-BR-03024.

Cassie Johnson, appellant, Pro se.

Phyllis Edwards, Associate General Counsel, for appellee.

BRANDON J. HARRISON, Judge. KINARD and GLOVER, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 879

BRANDON J. HARRISON, Judge

Cassie Johnson appeals the Arkansas Board of Review's decision to deny her unemployment benefits. Johnson missed three days of work after being out on workers' compensation leave for a work-related injury for almost a year and was discharged as a result. The issue is whether Johnson's absence was misconduct.

I.

Johnson worked as a security corporal with the construction division of the Arkansas Department of Correction from 8 December 2003 until 23 September 2014, when she was discharged. The circumstances surrounding the discharge were discussed before the Appeal Tribunal during a hearing in December 2014. A summary of the testimony goes this way. Johnson said that she injured her back at work in July 2013 and took workers' compensation leave in August 2013. She took FMLA leave from 1 January 2014 until 25 March 2014; she then went back to workers' compensation leave, which she remained on until the Department of Correction discharged her on 23 September 2014.

Shortly before her discharge, Johnson's treating doctor at The Spine Clinic sent word to the Public Employee Claims Division that she was being released from treatment. Johnson stated that she was never informed that her treating doctor had officially released her to work. She stated that she didn't know that she had been released to return to work until after she had already been terminated. Johnson contacted human resources on September 24 because her workers' compensation check " wasn't the right amount." That is when she was " advised that [her] termination letter was in the mail." Johnson also testified that

on the 24th is when I found out that I was released to go back to work, and then that's when I called the doctor's office to try to clarify because I wouldn't--I didn't know, so when I did find out, I did go back up there even after I was terminated to try and get the job essential form filled out because I knew I had to have that to return to work, and [my doctor] was out of the country and he couldn't fill it out until the 15th of the next month.

Her bottom line appears to be that she was guided by " the FMLA paperwork that says that you have to have [the job essential form] to return to work" and she never received one.

Stefanie Glasscock, a payroll administrator, appeared on behalf of the employer and said that Johnson was discharged because she was released from workers' compensation on 17 September 2014 and failed to call her supervisor or appear for work on September 18, 19, or 22. According to Glasscock, Johnson violated Conduct Code 1233, 4E; and " if an employee fails to call or report to supervisor for three working days," then her employment may be terminated. Glasscock also said that the Department of Correction allows employees to " ride their leave out" until a doctor releases them to work.

Johnson did not have an expected return date. Instead, the Department of Correction employs a " worker's comp employee" who maintains contact with employee physicians through the Public ...


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