CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that a Raleigh County Board of Education employee's job duties are not enough to qualify her for a job title change she has been attempting to get since 2012.
Wanda R. Williams appealed Kanawha Circuit Court's Aug. 20, 2014, order affirming the decision of an administrative law judge following a Level Three hearing of the West Virginia Public Employee Grievance Board, according to a memorandum decision.
Justices Robin Jean Davis, Brent D. Benjamin, Menis E. Ketchum and Allen H. Loughry II all concurred in the decision. Chief Justice Margaret L. Workman did not participate in the decision.
On appeal, Williams alleged the circuit court erred in finding that her duties that qualified as accounts payable in nature did not constitute her primary duties and that certain other of her duties were not accounts payable in nature.
The Supreme Court has considered the parties’ briefs and the record on appeal. The facts and legal arguments are adequately presented, and the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument.
"Upon consideration of the standard of review, the briefs and the record presented, the court finds no substantial question of law and no prejudicial error," the decision states. "For these reasons, a memorandum decision affirming the circuit court’s order is appropriate under Rule 21 of the Rules of Appellate Procedure."
By letter dated Dec. 12, 2012, Williams requested a reclassification of her job title, according to the decision.
Raleigh County Board of Education employed Williams in its purchasing department as a Secretary III/Accountant III since December of 2010, and in that position, Williams' immediate supervisor is Phillip Jarrell, the Director of Purchasing for that department.
Williams' job is to complete purchase orders and to receive and reconcile invoices and she does not supervise any employees.
In her letter, she requested to be reclassified as a Secretary III/Accountant III/Accounts Payable Supervisor because she believed she met "the responsibilities and requirements" necessary to be reclassified and, in January 2013, James G. Brown, the superintendent, responded to her letter with a denial based upon a review of her current employment responsibilities, work history and solicited input from Jarrell.
In February 2013, Williams filed a Level One grievance and claimed Brown should have granted the reclassification. The grievance also included a 20-point list of duties she claimed to perform that she maintained qualified her for the position of Accounts Payable Supervisor.
Brown conducted a Level One hearing and denied the grievance by decision dated March 18, 2013.
In July 2013, a Level Two mediation was held and, after it proved unsuccessful, Williams appealed to the West Virginia Public Employee’s Grievance Board at Level Three. The Grievance Board denied her grievance by decision dated April 7, 2014.
Williams then appealed the decision to Kanawha Circuit Court and the circuit court affirmed the grievance board's Aug. 20, 2014, decision. Williams then appealed to the circuit court.
"Upon our review, the court finds no error in the circuit court decision..Specifically, petitioner’s argument on appeal turns on factual findings made by the administrative law judge concerning specific aspects of her job duties," the decision states. "This includes findings that of the duties petitioner performed that can be classified as accounts payable in nature, such duties were not the primary portion of petitioner’s duties, and that other duties petitioner performed were not classified as accounts payable in nature."
The Supreme Court stated that upon its review and consideration of the circuit court’s order, the parties’ arguments, and the record submitted on appeal, they found no error or abuse of discretion by the circuit court.
"Indeed, the circuit court’s order includes well reasoned findings and conclusions as to the assignments of error raised on appeal," the decision states. "Given our conclusion that the circuit court’s order and the record before us reflect no clear error, we hereby adopt and incorporate the circuit court’s findings and conclusions as they relate to petitioner’s assignments of error raised..For the foregoing reasons, we affirm."
Williams is represented by John Everett Roush.
Raleigh is represented by Howard E. Seufer Jr. and Christopher L. Edwards.
W.Va. Supreme Court of Appeals case number: 14-0958