MEGAN D. KELLER, Claimant-Respondent,
AMERITEL INNS, INC., dba HAMPTON INN AND SUITES, Employer-Appellant, and IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, Respondent.
from the Idaho Industrial Commission.
order of Idaho Industrial Commission is affirmed.
Eberle, Berlin, Kading, Turnbow & McKlveen, Boise, for
Appellant. Corey J. Rippee argued.
Lovotti & Grad, PLLC, Boise, for Respondent, Megan
Keller. Alexander K. Grad argued.
Lawrence G. Wasden, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, for
Respondent, Idaho Department of Labor. Douglas A. Werth
Inns, Inc. (AmeriTel) appeals from a decision of the Idaho
Industrial Commission (Commission) granting Megan Keller
(Keller) unemployment benefits after her employment with
AmeriTel ended in June 2017. AmeriTel asks this Court to
adopt a bright line rule that a one-day absence without
notice is a voluntary quit under Idaho Code section
72-1366(5). In the event that the Court declines to do so,
AmeriTel contends that the Commission's factual findings
that rendered Keller eligible for unemployment compensation
benefits were not supported by substantial and competent
evidence. We affirm.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
case arises from Keller's claim for unemployment benefits
following the termination of her employment with AmeriTel in
June 2017. Keller began working as a housekeeper for AmeriTel
in April 2016. In early 2017, she began to experience extreme
nausea and dehydration as a result of pregnancy. Because of
these symptoms, Keller frequently missed shifts or reported
late to work in the weeks leading up to the termination of
has a policy that allows for discipline of employees for
excessive absences or failure to provide adequate advance
notice of tardiness or absence. Although AmeriTel's
policy does not define "excessive absences," toward
the end of May 2017, Keller's superiors at AmeriTel began
to feel that her absences were excessive. As a result, her
supervisor, Cody Black, was instructed to present her with a
formal write-up when she came in to work on June 2. However,
Keller did not report to work that day because she was ill.
Black did not reprimand Keller. Instead, he called her that
evening and offered to place her on a leave of absence until
she was well enough to return to work. Keller agreed to the
leave of absence and asked if they could meet the following
day when she was at work to discuss further details. However,
because Keller did not feel well on June 3, she sent a text
message to Black to inform him that she was unable to meet
with him that day.
was scheduled to work on June 4 but again she did not feel
well. She drafted a text message to Black to notify him that
she would be absent; however, the message was never received.
Until that day, Keller had always notified AmeriTel if she
was going to be absent from work. On June 5, Keller sent a
text message to Black to ask if he was available to meet that
day to discuss her leave of absence. After receiving
Keller's message, Black spoke with AmeriTel's general
manager about Keller's absence the previous day. At the
general manager's direction, Black informed Keller that
because she did not provide notice of her absence on June 4,
AmeriTel presumed that she had quit.
applied for unemployment compensation benefits. Her
application was initially denied on the basis that she was
discharged for employment-related misconduct. Keller appealed
that decision and an appeals examiner conducted a hearing to
review her eligibility on August 8, 2017. Following the
hearing, the appeals examiner issued a decision concluding
that Keller was eligible for unemployment benefits because
she was discharged and her discharge was not for
employment-related misconduct. In August 2017, AmeriTel
appealed from that decision. On October 2, 2017, the
Commission issued an order affirming the appeals
examiner's decision. AmeriTel timely appealed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Idaho Constitution constrains this Court's review of
Industrial Commission decisions to questions of law.
Locker v. How Soel, Inc., 151 Idaho 696, 699, 263
P.3d 750, 753 (2011) (citing Idaho Const. art. V, § 9).
Accordingly, "this Court does not 'conduct a de
novo review of the evidence or consider whether it would
have reached a different conclusion from the evidence
presented.'" Serrano v. Four Seasons
Framing, 157 Idaho 309, 317, 336 P.3d 242, 250 (2014)
(quoting Henderson v. McCain Foods, Inc., 142 Idaho
559, 565, 130 P.3d 1097, 1103 (2006)). Instead, where
substantial and competent evidence supports the
Commission's factual findings, we are constitutionally
compelled to affirm the Commission's decision. Barr
v. Citicorp Credit Serv., Inc. USA, 161 Idaho 136, 138,
384 P.3d 383, 385 (2016). "Substantial and competent
evidence is relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might
accept to support a conclusion." Uhl v. Ballard Med.
Prods., Inc., 138 Idaho 653, 657, 67 P.3d 1265, 1269
(2003). "[W]hether the claimant was discharged or
voluntarily left her employment, whether a discharge ...