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Michaels v. KTLA Investments LLC

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District

July 3, 2013

ROBIN S. MICHAELS Plaintiff-Appellant.
v.
KTLA INVESTMENTS LLC, et al. Defendant-Appellee

(Civil Appeal from (Common Pleas Court) Trial Court Case No. 2012-CV-2234.

DAVID M. DUWEL, Atty. Reg. #0029583, Duwel Law, Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellant.

MICHAEL DeWINE, by ROBIN A. JARVIS, Atty. Reg. #0069752, Ohio Attorney General's Office, Attorney for Defendant-Appellant.

OPINION

DONOFRIO, J.

{¶1} Plaintiff-appellant Robin S. Michaels appeals the decision of the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court that upheld the decision of a hearing officer from the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission that denied her unemployment benefits. That denial of benefits stemmed from a conclusion that Michaels quit her employment without just cause.

{¶2} Michaels worked full time as a video producer at Sinclair Broadcasting Group. She began to also work part time as a bartender at Savona's Restaurant, owned by defendant-appellee KTLA Investments, LLC, in November 2008. (Tr. 6.) She took the job for fun and for extra money. (Tr. 6.)

{¶3} Michaels' employment with Sinclair Broadcasting Group ended and she requested more hours at Savona's Restaurant. Her request was denied and she eventually resigned her employment at Savona's Restaurant.

{¶4} Michaels filed for unemployment compensation benefits on November 7, 2011, and defendant-appellee Director of the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS) issued a determination denying her benefits based on a finding that she had quit her employment without just cause. Michaels appealed that determination, ODJFS affirmed the disallowance of benefits in redetermination and transferred the appeal to the Ohio Unemployment Review Commission.

{¶5} The Review Commission held an evidentiary hearing on January 17, 2012. Michaels claimed that she had quit Savona's Restaurant due to a "hostile" and "unethical" atmosphere. Specifically, she claimed that after she had requested additional hours after her employment with Sinclair Broadcasting ended, the owner and chef of the restaurant (and KTLA Investments, LLC), Keith Taylor, began assigning her shifts to other employees and hired new employees for other shifts. She also claimed that the owner began to steal her and other employees' tip money under the guise of covering fees associated with accepting credit card payments for food and beverage purchases. She maintained that she did not raise her concerns with Taylor when she resigned and resigned out of fear of receiving a bad reference.

{¶6}On January 19, 2012, the hearing officer issued a decision affirming the redetermination and disallowance of unemployment compensation benefits. Michaels appealed the Review Commission's decision to the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court and it affirmed the Review Commission. This appeal followed.

{¶7} Michaels' sole assignment of error states:

The trial court erred when it affirmed the decision of the Commission because that decision was unlawful, unreasonable, and against the manifest weight of the evidence.

{¶8} An employee is not entitled to unemployment compensation benefits if they quit work without just cause or were discharged by their employer for just cause. R.C. 4141.29(D)(2). "The claimant has the burden of proving her entitlement to unemployment compensation benefits under this statutory provision, including the existence of just cause for quitting work." Irvine v. State Unemployment Comp. Bd. of Review, 19 Ohio St.3d 15, 17, 482 N.E.2d 587 (1985). "Traditionally, just cause, in the statutory sense, is that which, to an ordinarily intelligent person, is a justifiable reason for doing or not doing a particular act." Id.

{¶9} This court's standard of review in this type of appeal is extremely limited. Giles v. F & P Am. Mfg., Inc., 2d Dist. Miami No. 2004-CA-36, 2005-Ohio-4833, ¶ 13. An appellate court may only determine whether the decision of the review commission is unlawful, unreasonable, or against the manifest weight of the evidence. Tzangeos, Plakas, & Mannos v. Ohio Bureau of Employment Services, 73 Ohio St.3d 694, 697, 653 N.E.2d 1207 (1995), paragraph one of the syllabus. It may not make factual findings or determine the credibility of the witnesses, but may ...


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