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Cox v. Texas Workforce Commission

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fifth District, Dallas

May 10, 2019

FRANKLIN COX, Appellant
v.
TEXAS WORKFORCE COMMISSION, LINCOLN TECHNICAL INSTITUTE, INC., AND UCAC, INC., Appellees

          On Appeal from the 134th Judicial District Court Dallas County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. DC-17-01261

          Before Justices Schenck, Osborne, and Reichek.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          LESLIE OSBORNE JUSTICE.

         Franklin Cox appeals the trial court's judgment affirming the decision of the Texas Workforce Commission ("TWC") that he was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Because there was substantial evidence to support the TWC's decision, we affirm the trial court's judgment.[1]

         Background

         Cox was employed at Lincoln Technical Institute ("Lincoln") as a tool room attendant from April 2013 until June 2016, when he was terminated for unsatisfactory job performance. After his termination, Cox sought unemployment benefits in an application to the TWC. The TWC determined that Cox was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because he was discharged for misconduct. Cox appealed the decision to each level within the TWC and then filed a petition for judicial review in the trial court. His petition alleged that because he was "fired for inability to perform his job to employer's satisfaction, rather than misconduct," he was eligible for unemployment compensation.

         The TWC and Lincoln answered and filed a joint motion for summary judgment on the ground that there was substantial evidence to support the TWC's decision. They offered summary judgment evidence through the affidavit of Cox's supervisor Rick Calverley. Calverley stated that Cox performed his duties, including proper maintenance of Lincoln's tool room, welding lab, and ramp room, to Calverley's satisfaction until January 2016. Calverley testified further:

• He became aware of argon gas leaks in the welding lab on January 21, 2016;
• He directed Cox to test for leaks in the welding booths, Teflon tape the fittings, plug gas lines that had valves left open, repair a line in one of the booths, and retest the gas lines after repair;
• When Cox did not complete these tasks, Calverley sent him reminders, granted multiple extensions, and issued verbal and written warnings, explaining that the tasks were of the highest priority because the leaks were a safety hazard for students and were costly. Specifically, Calverley sent Cox a "Letter of Concern" dated February 2, 2016, emphasizing the need for Cox to complete the assigned tasks. Cox was warned in the letter that continued violations would result in further disciplinary action. Cox refused to sign the letter to indicate that he "read and understand[s] this disciplinary action";
• Calverley followed up with Cox's progress on the assigned tasks after sending the letter of concern. He instructed Cox that he could use overtime and could order tools, if needed, to complete the tasks;
• Cox had not completed the tasks by March 22, 2016, when Calverley issued him an "Employee Success Plan" listing "performance concerns" including failure to complete the tasks relating to the argon leak. Calverley warned Cox that failure to improve his performance to the levels described in the plan would result in further disciplinary action, potentially including termination of Cox's employment. Cox again refused to sign the document;
• By April 1, 2016, Cox had not completed his assigned tasks. Calverley reassigned the tasks to another employee, who completed them within a few days; and
• Calverley terminated Cox's employment with Lincoln effective June 23, 2016, for unsatisfactory job performance and failure to meet the expectations listed in the Employee Success Plan. In the "Termination Transmittal Form," Calverley noted that "Mr. Cox has been asked to repair leaking gas lines in weld lab. After repeatedly not finishing task, another employee spent 4 days repairing all lines and leaks."

         Calverley attached the "Letter of Concern," "Employee Success Plan," and "Termination Transmittal Form" that were given to Cox ...


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