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Ricks v. Director, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District

July 25, 2013

JACQUELINE D. RICKS PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT
v.
DIRECTOR, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF JOB AND FAMILY SERVICES, ET AL. DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES

Civil Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case Nos. CV-772373 and CV-786006

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: Kenneth J. Kowalski, Doron M. Kalir, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES: For the Director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Mike DeWine Ohio Attorney General BY: Laurence R. Snyder Assistant Attorney General State, For Barkley of Cleveland, L.L.C. Roy J. Schechter Lichko & Schechter.

BEFORE: Boyle, P.J., Rocco, J., and Blackmon, J.

JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

MARY J. BOYLE, P.J.

{¶1} Appellant Jacqueline Ricks appeals from the trial court's decision affirming a judgment of the Ohio Unemployment Compensation Review Commission ("UCRC") that denied her claim for unemployment benefits. Finding no merit to the appeal, we affirm.

Procedural History and Facts

{¶2} Appellee Barkley of Cleveland, L.L.C. ("Barkley") hired Ricks in March 2010, where she worked in office and administrative support. Her employment ended on March 16, 2011. Ricks worked part-time at Barkley. Prior to her discharge from Barkley, Ricks was receiving some unemployment benefits for her previous employment at University Hospitals.

{¶3} On March 17, 2011, Ricks appeared in court and was sentenced to six months in prison. As a result of her sentence, Ricks was unable to appear for her next scheduled shift on March 19, 2011. Ricks's supervisor, Rachel Radcliffe, learned of Ricks's incarceration on the news and subsequently sent Ricks a text message. Ricks's boyfriend, Martin Head, saw Radcliffe's text and then called her, notifying Radcliffe of Ricks's sentence but indicating that Ricks may be released sooner. According to Head, Radcliffe informed him that Ricks would have her job back regardless of when she was released from jail. Radcliffe further indicated that Ricks should contact Barkley if she was released.

{¶4} In June 2011, Ricks attempted to return to work but learned that a replacement was hired. She was told the company would keep her number if anything changed.

{¶5} Ricks subsequently applied for unemployment benefits with appellee Ohio Department of Job and Family Services ("ODJFS"). The agency disallowed the application, determining that Ricks had been discharged with just cause. On appeal, the director's redetermination affirmed the denial of benefits. A second appeal followed, and the matter was transferred to the UCRC for an evidentiary hearing.

{¶6} On October 17, 2011, a telephone hearing was held. Ricks appeared and offered her testimony and the testimony of her boyfriend. Barkley did not participate in the hearing. The hearing officer subsequently issued a decision affirming the director's redetermination that Ricks was discharged for just cause. In support of her decision, the hearing officer reasoned the following:

The claimant argued that a leave was granted, and therefore she should be granted unemployment compensation. However, there is insufficient evidence that leave was granted to serve her sentence. In this case, the claimant admitted that the employer was unaware of her legal peril until she was unable to return to work. It appears that there may have been a gesture to give the claimant her job back but the employer was under no legal obligations to do so.

{ΒΆ7} Ricks subsequently filed a request for review, and on November 30, 2011, the UCRC issued a decision disallowing her request. Ricks appealed to the common pleas ...


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