Law School Case Brief
Murray v. Tex. Workforce Comm'n - 337 S.W.3d 522 (Tex. App. 2011)
A Texas Workforce Commission ("TWC") decision regarding benefit payments carries a presumption of validity. The burden on the party challenging the TWC ruling is to show that it was not supported by substantial evidence. Whether the TWC's decision is supported by substantial evidence is a question of law. In making this determination, a reviewing court must decide whether the evidence is such that reasonable minds could not have reached the conclusion the administrative body must have reached to justify its actions. The ruling may be set aside only if it was made without regard to the law or the facts and, therefore, was unreasonable, arbitrary, or capricious.
When appellant Joseph Murray was hired by his employer, the employer's attendance policy permitted 12 instances of tardiness in a 12-month period. More than a year prior to his termination, the policy was amended to permit five instances of tardiness in a one-year period. Murray signed a form acknowledging that he had received, read, and understood the new policy. When Murray's tardiness violated the new policy, he was given warning notices following his fifth and sixth tardiness violations. Murray signed the notices and verified that he understood that any further violations of the attendance policy could result in his termination. When Murray was tardy again, he was terminated. Murray thereafter applied for unemployment benefits, but his request was denied by respondent Texas Workforce Commission ("TWC"). TWC found that under § 207.044 of the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act, persons discharged for misconduct connected with their work were not eligible to receive benefits, and Murray's knowing and repeated violations of the employer's attendance policy amounted to such misconduct. Murray filed a lawsuit in Texas state court seeking judicial review of TWC's decision. The trial court granted TWC's motion for summary judgment. Murray appealed.
Was TWC's denial of Murray's application for unemployment benefits erroneous?
The appellate court affirmed the trial court's decision. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to show that Murray was aware of the employer's attendance policy and that he violated that policy. As such, Murray was terminated for misconduct, which rendered him ineligible to receive unemployment benefits under § 207.044.
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