FROM THE ARKANSAS BOARD OF REVIEW [NO. 2018-BR-00453]
Bugg, pro se appellant.
Phyllis A. Edwards, for appellee.
PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, JUDGE
Danny Bugg sought unemployment benefits. His application for
benefits was denied. Bugg has now appealed to this court,
arguing several issues for reversal. Because the Board of Review
("the Board") failed to render a ruling on one of
the key issues raised in Bugg's appeal, however, we must
remand to the Board at this time to make specific findings.
was employed by the City of Hot Springs ("the
City") as the City's Animal Control Services (ACS)
supervisor. Bugg began his employment in 1999. In 2012, the
City placed ACS under the supervision of the Hot Springs
Police Department. In 2016, David Frasher became the new city
manager. Sometime thereafter, Bugg became concerned with the
manner in which ACS was being managed. He expressed his
concerns to the chief of police, Jason Stachey. Chief Stachey
and Bugg were unable to resolve these concerns to Bugg's
satisfaction. In response, Bugg sent an email to Chief
Stachey and Assistant Chief Chris Chapmond, dated September
8, 2017, writing in pertinent part as follows:
After much thought and reflection I find that my first duty
to myself is to be honest. . . . Looking at my calendar, it
appears Friday, January 5th, of 2018 would be as prime a day
to make my exit from the City of Hot Springs. This is NOT my
retirement, quite frankly I feel there is much more I can do
in this field of work. I simply am unable to continue in a
format where the likelihood of this department stepping into
operational failure appears to be the path we will embark
upon beginning next year. . . . This date is tentative,
however [it] seems the most logical time to move forward.
email dated September 12, 2017, Chief Stachey informed Bugg
that he would "accept [the email] as your official
letter of intent to retire." Bugg responded the next
day, protesting that his September 8, 2017 email had not been
an expression of his intent to retire. From that point on,
Bugg continued to communicate with Chief Stachey, City
Manager Frasher, the mayor of Hot Springs, and the City's
board of directors. In his communications, Bugg continued to
dispute that his September 8, 2017 email had been intended as
an expression of his intent to retire. In these
communications, Bugg also suggested that the City had not
followed proper authority regarding an employee's
retirement process. Specifically, Bugg questioned whether
Chief Stachey had the legal authority to interpret Bugg's
intent in the September 8 email and asserted that only the
board of directors had the "supreme executive
authority" to interpret an employee's intent with
respect to the termination of his or her employment. Bugg was
eventually relieved of his duties in December 2017, but the
City continued to pay Bugg until January 5, 2018, the date
Bugg cited in his original email to Chief Stachey.
thereafter sought unemployment benefits. The Department of
Workforce Services ("the Department") denied his
application, finding that he quit his job because he was
"dissatisfied with changes that had been made. An
evaluation of the facts shows [Bugg] left [his] work
voluntarily and without good cause connected with the
work." The Department thus concluded that Bugg was
disqualified from receiving benefits pursuant to Arkansas
Code Annotated section 11-10-513(a)(1) (Repl. 2012).
timely appealed to the Tribunal, asserting in an accompanying
memorandum that (1) he had not intended to retire; (2) the
chief of police lacked the authority to interpret his intent;
and (3) therefore, his unemployment was not voluntary within
the meaning of section 11-10-513. The Tribunal held a
telephone hearing and considered testimony from Bugg and
Chief Stachey. Based on the evidence presented at the
hearing, the Tribunal concluded that Bugg voluntarily quit
his job without good cause.
timely appealed the Tribunal's decision to the Board and
again submitted a legal memorandum on the issues of his
intent and Chief Stachey's authority to interpret his
intent. The Board affirmed the Tribunal's decision,
finding that Bugg's email indicated that his last day of
work would be January 5, 2018, and his employer reasonably
interpreted and accepted the email as "an end to the
employment relationship." The Board thus concluded that
Bugg had not shown that he "quit for reasons that would
impel the average, able-bodied worker to quit under similar
circumstances." The Board did not, however, address
Bugg's arguments concerning his employer's authority
to take the actions that it did. Bugg timely appealed.
appeal to this court is based largely on his argument that he
was "involuntarily unemployed because officials of [the
City] acted without lawful authority." Bugg consistently
raised this argument before both the Tribunal and the Board.
We are unable to reach the merits of Bugg's arguments to
this court because the argument was not ruled on at the
administrative-agency level. "When an administrative
agency fails to make a finding on a pertinent issue, [this
court does] not decide the question in the first instance but
instead [will] remand for a ruling." McAlister v.
Dir., 2012 Ark.App. 349, at 2 (remanding because Board
failed to rule on claimant's argument that she was
subjected to gender discrimination and directing the Board to
address and issue a ruling on that claim in its determination
of whether good cause existed for claimant to leave her job);
see also Saldana v. Dir., 2015 Ark.App. 129, at 3
(remanding for findings because the Board did not rule on the
claimant's constitutional arguments); Harris v.
Dir., 2014 Ark.App. 163, at 3; Johnson v. Dir.,
2013 Ark.App. 74; Bergman v. Dir., 2009 Ark.App.
the Board failed to rule on Bugg's arguments concerning
the City's authority, and those arguments go to the heart
of Bugg's contention that he did not quit without good
cause, we must ...