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Texas Workforce Commission v. Macias

Court of Appeals of Texas, Thirteenth District, Corpus Christi-Edinburg

May 25, 2017

TEXAS WORKFORCE COMMISSION, Appellant,
v.
MARIA PATRICIA MACIAS, Appellee.

         On appeal from the 357th District Court of Cameron County, Texas.

          Before Chief Justice Valdez and Justices Rodriguez and Benavides

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ROGELIO VALDEZ Chief Justice.

         Appellant Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) appeals the trial court's judgment, which reversed the TWC's determination that appellee Patricia Macias was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. See Tex. Labor Code Ann. § 207.044(a) (West, Westlaw through 2015 R.S.). We affirm.

         I. Background

         For over two decades, the Harlingen Independent School District employed Macias as a paraprofessional. Macias's job duties primarily consisted of helping teachers manage students in the classroom. A school policy prohibited paraprofessionals from having "conferences" with parents about students; instead, parent conferences were reserved for teachers.

         On October 18, 2012, a teacher at the school where Macias worked told the principal that she overheard Macias talking to a student's grandfather about the student. The principal determined that Macias violated the school's policy against conferencing and fired her.

         Approximately four months after her termination, Macias filed a claim with the TWC seeking unemployment compensation starting from the date of her termination. The TWC determined that Macias was disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation because she committed "misconduct" as defined by the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act, by "mismanag[ing] her position of employment." See id. (providing that "an individual is disqualified for benefits if the individual was discharged for misconduct connected with the individual's last work"); see also id. § 201.012 (West, Westlaw through 2015 R.S.) (defining misconduct as, among other things, "mismanagement of a position of employment"). Specifically, the TWC concluded that Macias mismanaged her position as a paraprofessional by having a conference with the student's grandfather on October 18, 2012.

         Thereafter, Macias timely appealed the TWC's finding of misconduct to the trial court. After an evidentiary hearing on the issue, the trial court entered a judgment reversing the TWC's decision to deny Macias unemployment benefits. This appeal by the TWC followed.

          II. Discussion

         By its first issue, the TWC contends that the trial court erred in reversing the TWC's finding of misconduct.

         A. Standard of Review

         Under the applicable standard of review, the trial court's judgment stands if the TWC's finding of misconduct was not supported by "substantial evidence." See id. § 212.202(a) (West, Westlaw through 2015 R.S.); see also State v. Pub. Util. Comm'n of Tex., 883 S.W.2d 190, 204 (Tex. 1994); Tex. Employment Comm'n v. Holberg, 440 S.W.2d 38, 42 (Tex. 1969). Substantial evidence means more than a scintilla. See Pub. Util. Comm'n of Tex., 883 S.W.2d at 204.

         B.Applicable ...


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