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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 18809
Experience:  Employment/Labor Law Litigation
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An appeal (now at the judicial level) regarding my

Customer Question

Customer: An appeal (now at the judicial level) regarding my involuntary decision to resign from my teaching job. I continue to be disqualified for unemployment benefits because "The Board concludes that the Appeals Referee properly and correctly applied the Employment Security Law to the facts found..." However, what didn't occur was the fact that my administration (principal) was not part of ANY process during the appeals process. I need to know...ask if the fact that the principal was not part of the original appeal hearing constitutes a legally significant flaw in the process. I assumed she would be part of the hearing; instead the Director of the HR Dept acted as the representative from the school district and knew nothing about what I addressed concerning a closed door meeting where my principal and asst principal presented me with my "Letter of Intent". My principal let me know that I was to read it over carefully and she indicated that when she would submit her list to HR at the end of the year in reference to those she requested/recommended to return that there was no guarantee that I would be on the list. Please know during my second meeting with her...I was crying...I asked for another ***** *****-no comment from her. I mentioned to her (even though she knew) that I had just moved my kids with me to the area and that I had just purchased a townhome-no comment. Only one other teacher was presented with the "Letter of Intent" in a closed door meeting...he resigned, too. All other teachers were called up by teams to meet in the conference room with the principal...to walk in, sign their letters, and move on with their day. So, when I discussed my closed door meeting the HR Director representing the school system had no direct knowledge of what transpired in your meeting with the principal.
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: My name is ***** ***** who ***** ***** is...sorry! :)
JA: OK got it. Last thing — JustAnswer charges a fee (generally around $18) to post your type of question to Employment Law Experts (you only pay if satisfied). There are a couple customers ahead of you. Are you willing to wait a bit?
Customer: I'm willing to wait if I can be advised as to what I should do regarding resubmitting my appeal, again, in North Carolina at the Judicial Level, do I have a ***** ***** by pointing out that my principal was not involved; thereby, not allowing me to ask her questions at my hearing or to have the Appeals Referee ask her questions regarding my involuntary resignation and what are the chances that the current decision may be overturned. Thank you, Beth
JA: OK. Now I'm going to take you to a page to place a secure deposit with JustAnswer. Don't worry, this chat is saved. After that, we will finish helping you.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 11 months ago.

It isn't necessarily legal error, because it is possible that the Appeals Referee took what you said about what occurred as fact and yet still found that the decision was made voluntarily.

All the principal could have done was refute your position, but if the Appeals Referee determined that even if everything you said was true it still wouldn't rise to the level of duress necessary to make your decision involuntary, the the Principal's testimony (which could only either have confirmed or refuted what you said) was not necessary.

So no, it is not automatically error. Now, if you have some evidence from the decision which suggests that the Appeals Referee took into consider HR's account of what took place in the room as a means of countering your position, then you could claim error.

Now, if you had specific questions that you wished to address with the Principal and were not given that chance, you could certainly argue that that was error....however, again we come down to what facts the Referee applied. If the Referee took all your facts, as presented, and applied them in the light most favorable to you and STILL could not find in your favor, the appeal wouldn't be successful because there wouldn't be error there.

So, the problem we have here really is knowing what the actual basis for the determination was.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Conclusion provided:State that the documentary evidence clearly shows that the school system intended to retain the claimant's services for the next academic year. The principal's reluctance to guarantee the claimant continuing employment does not constitute a forces resignation.It was concluded that me (the claimant) did not support a conclusion that the claimant met the burden of showing good cause attributable to the employer for leaving.With that said, I'm a 17 year teaching veteran and at no time have I ever been requested to meet privately to 'review' the school district's "Letter of Intent". So, why meet with me personally to do so? Why tell me to read it carefully and verbally indicate that I may not be requested back the following year? Why not have me join the other teachers who came into the conference room to sign and move on about their day? Why didn't my principal reassure me upon returning to discuss the "Letter of Intent"...the day it was due...that I would still have a job the following year as I sat there crying asking for second chance and discussing my recent move to this area with my kids & the recent purchase of my home? Instead of 'delicately guiding me as to how to complete the "Letter of Intent" to show I was resigning, why didn't she question why I would quit because I, obviously, didn't want to do so? Why didn't the school district have the principal or asst principal attend the hearing since they were both apart of the private meeting? Why did the school district have an employee, who's title is "Insurance Benefits Coordinator", complete the SIDES Response...she knew nothing about me and inaccurately completed the response...which I pointed out, specifically, item by item during my hearing? Of course, the Director of HR couldn't speak to what I was discussing as she wasn't privy to the those direct interactions with my principal and she couldn't answer my question regarding the practice expected of administrators within the county when it was time to dispense the "Letter of Intent", she skirted the issue by saying what would be done at the HR level. It was very frustrating.I feel as though the opportunity to ask questions of my principal was never afforded to me. I didn't have the chance to ask her why she met with me privately to review a form I was already familiar with from working in the county previously...first time back after about 7 years...returning as a single mom and why after telling me the month prior that she hoped I would return the following school year to the same location would she lead me to believe that she would now, no longer endorse me as a teacher at her school or in the county? I never had the chance to ask her if her intent to meet with me privately was to guide me into resigning? She could have let me know that, perhaps, I should entertain a transfer, but she didn't. She gave me no response, no answer during our 2nd meeting and I was quite visibly upset despite the fact that she lead me to believe the following month that she wanted me to return. She should have been at the hearing and she should have been the one to complete the SIDES response, but neither of those occurred at her hand.
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 11 months ago.

Based on that conclusion, it would seem that the Referee found as I suggested....that even taking your facts as you stated that as the complete truth, that that still didn't rise to the level of "good cause" for leaving or to suggest a legally coerced resignation. There is a difference between a factually and legally coerced. Factually coerced is having pressure put on you to quit. That happens all the time. Legal coercion is having so much pressure put on you that any person would have quit under the exact same circumstances...a higher burden. That being said, I think you note in your appeal that the other person presented with the same harassment also quit.

As for your questions, I'll address those. Why meet privately with you? They meet privately with my HR situations, so I'm not sure what your point is there. Why tell you to read it carefully? Because they want you to actually read it carefully, so that you cannot later claim that you were not given the chance to review the letter.

As for why she didn't reassure you, I don't know the answer to that but nothing in law requires that reassurance. It's a mandatory action.

I think that part of the issue here is that you are asking questions that certainly call into question their motivation in separating you or getting you to resign, but those aren't questions for unemployment. They are more appropriately directed to an employment law plaintiff's attorney to see if you have a "due process" or "breach of contract" complaint against the employer for wrongful termination.

I certainly understand that you feel you should have been able to question the principal and I don't disagree, but your question was whether or not it was error and I was simply explaining to you how it be viewed as not error. You have to counter that point, by explaining that being able to question the principal would have revealed evidence that you could not reveal in her absence, and that was error.

Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 11 months ago.

Hello, I wanted to check in and make sure that there was not any additional information that you required.

If so, please use REPLY and ask me for any additional information you may need. If not, take care and have a great day.