Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second District, Montgomery
YOUNG WOMEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION OF DAYTON, OHIO, INC. Plaintiff-Appellee
OHIO DEPARTMENT OF JOB & FAMILY SERVICES, et al. Defendant-Appellant
Appeal from Common Pleas Court Trial Court Case No.
BEVERLY A. MEYER, Atty. Attorney for Plaintiff-Appellee
M. DUWEL, Atty. Attorney for Defendant-Appellant
1} In this case, Appellant, Paula McLaughlin,
appeals from a trial court judgment reversing the decision of
the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission
("UCRC"). Previously, the UCRC found that
McLaughlin had been discharged without just cause by
Appellee, Young Women's Christian Association of Dayton,
Ohio ("YWCA"). In support of her appeal, McLaughlin
contends that the trial court erred by reversing UCRC's
decision, because the decision was not unlawful,
unreasonable, or against the manifest weight of the evidence.
2} We conclude that the trial court did not err in
finding that YWCA fired McLaughlin for just cause and that
UCRC's decision was unlawful, unreasonable, and against
the manifest weight of the evidence. Accordingly, the
judgment of the trial court will be affirmed.
Facts and Course of Proceedings
3} McLaughlin was hired by YWCA as a Special Events
Coordinator on November 7, 2014. She was terminated from
employment on October 21, 2015, following an unexcused
absence from work on Friday, October 16, 2015. McLaughlin and
two YWCA employees gave differing versions of the events that
led up to McLaughlin's termination from employment.
4} According to McLaughlin, she had received
permission from her direct supervisor, Linda Menz, to take
Friday, October 16th off from work. Transcript of February
10, 2016 Hearing, p. 8. McLaughlin received this permission
from Menz during the week of October 9th. Id. at 9.
At the time, McLaughlin was working on an event scheduled for
October 13th and asked Menz if she could have the 16th off
rather than the day after the event. According to McLaughlin,
in the past she had received a day off after a big event in
recognition of the amount of time she had spent preparing for
the event. During her discussion with Menz, McLaughlin
mentioned wanting to go to Michigan on the 16th for the
weekend. Id. Based on Menz's approval,
McLaughlin put a deposit down on a cottage in Michigan. In
the past, when McLaughlin had been given the day off after an
event, she did not have to submit a request for personal time
in these circumstances. Id. at 30. McLaughlin stated
the following regarding the approval she had received to take
off from work on the 16th (id. at 31):
It was the Y-Women Breakfast was on October 13th and I had
spoken to Linda, which was the Tuesday, I had spoken to Linda
the week prior because I knew I had worked a number of
weekends leading up to the event and also evenings. So, I had
spoken to Linda and requested instead of the Wednesday, which
was the day after the event, that I take the Friday off
because I wanted to go to Michigan.
5} On October 15th, McLaughlin reminded Menz that
she would be taking the next day off from work. But Menz
reversed course and said that she was not comfortable with
McLaughlin taking the 16th off because McLaughlin had a
negative personal time balance. Id. at 10.
McLaughlin was allowed 120 hours of personal time per year.
Menz suggested that McLaughlin speak with Lilly Jennings in
Human Resources about her negative personal time balance.
6} McLaughlin met with Jennings and explained to her
that McLaughlin had already worked excessive hours due to the
big event on October 13th and that McLaughlin had always been
able to take a day off after an event. Jennings said that
there was nothing she could do. McLaughlin then went back to
speak with Menz, who said that she was sorry because she knew
how much McLaughlin was looking forward to the weekend and
suggested that McLaughlin should try to speak to Shannon
Isom, the C.E.O. of YWCA. Id. McLaughlin tried to
speak with Isom, but she was on the way out of the office.
Isom asked if the matter could wait until she returned in
about an hour. McLaughlin waited but Isom did not return to
the office that day. Id. McLaughlin wrote an email
to Isom on the 15th about the matter but did not receive a
response. Id. at 11.
7} On October 16th, McLaughlin came into the office
in the morning and worked a couple of hours. McLaughlin tried
to speak with Isom, but she was not in the office that
morning. McLaughlin also spoke with Menz and alerted her that
McLaughlin had to leave to go on her family vacation in
Michigan. Menz told McLaughlin that she would get a write-up
if she left early on the 16th. Id. McLaughlin
returned to work on Monday morning. On Wednesday, October 21,
2015, McLaughlin was fired by YWCA after a meeting with Isom
8} Menz had a different recollection of the events
leading up to McLaughlin's termination from employment.
According to Menz, she was not aware that there were times
when YWCA employees received informal days off because of
working a large number of hours. Id. at 22. And she
did not "specifically recall" any circumstances
where McLaughlin was allowed to take the next day off after
the day of an event. Id. at 23. Menz conceded that
it was possible that McLaughlin received time off in the past
without use of personal time after an event, but she did not
recall any specific instance when this occurred. Id.
at 30. Menz stated that October 14, 2015 was the first day on
which McLaughlin had mentioned wanting to take off October
16th. On October the 15th, Menz advised McLaughlin that Menz
was told by Human Resources that there was a negative
personal time balance and therefore the leave could not be
approved. Menz stated that McLaughlin "said she
understood." Id. at 23. At first, Menz stated
that she "never actually knew why she wanted the time,
" but later stated that "I think she did mention
it" and that McLaughlin did discuss with Menz that she
had been working a lot recently and that was part of the
reason she wanted to take the 16th off from work.
Id. at 24. According to Menz, McLaughlin did object
to the idea that she did not have personal time available.
But Menz did not discuss with her where or how the personal
time may have been used. Id. at 25-26.
9} Menz gave the following description of what
happened on October 16th (id. at 26):
Paula came into my office at some point and just said she was
leaving then and I asked if she had indeed spoken with the HR
manager or the CEO and she said no. And, so I said, "I
don't know what's going to happen to you if you just
leave." And Paula at that point said "I ...