Grievance of Baldwin

Annotate this Case

                                 ENTRY ORDER

                       SUPREME COURT DOCKET NO. 90-223

                             NOVEMBER TERM, 1991

 Grievance of Joanne Baldwin       }          APPEALED FROM:
                                   }          Labor Relations Board
                                   }          DOCKET NO. 89-53

              In the above entitled cause the Clerk will enter:

      Grievant appeals from a decision of the Vermont Labor Relations Board
 that she could not contest her termination from her position with the
 Department of General Services because she had resigned from that position.
 She argues that a resignation is ineffective unless it is in writing, that
 the evidence shows that she did not resign, and, in any event, there was a
 constructive discharge.

      Her argument that a resignation is ineffective if not written relies on
 a Department of Personnel rule requiring an employee to put a resignation in
 writing.  See Vermont Department of Personnel, Rules and Regulations for
 Personnel Administration Rule 12.02.  The Board noted, however, that the
 definition of resignation in the rules does not require that there be a
 writing.  See id. Rule 2.0384.  It concluded that the requirement of a
 writing in Rule 12.02 was solely to provide the employer with dependable
 notice of an employee's impending termination of employment.  This
 interpretation was consistent with that adopted by the Department of

      Absent compelling indications of error, we must accept the interpreta-
 tion of administrative regulations by the agency responsible for their
 implementation.  Rogers v. Watson, 156 Vt. ___, ___, 594 A.2d 409, 412
 (1991).  The parties agree that the rule involved here has become embedded
 in the collective bargaining agreement between the State of Vermont and the
 Vermont State Employees Association.  We defer to the Board in construing
 the agreement.  See Vermont State Colleges Staff Fed. v. Vermont State
 Colleges, 156 Vt. ___, ___, 596 A.2d 355, 357 (1991).

      The interpretation of the regulations adopted by the Board and the
 Personnel Department is reasonable in light of their purpose.  The
 regulations do not state that an oral resignation is ineffective to
 terminate employment.  Viewing the regulations as a whole, see Vermont State
 Colleges Faculty Federation v. Vermont State Colleges, 151 Vt. 457, 461, 561 A.2d 417, 420 (1989)(provisions of collective bargaining agreement should be
 construed as part of an integrated whole), we agree that the requirement of
 a writing was inserted solely for the benefit of the employer and can be
 waived by it.  Thus, the lack of a writing does not change the character of
 grievant's act.

      Grievant argues that the Board's finding that she resigned on June 26,
 1989, is unsupported by the record and is ineffective because the State
 claimed she resigned on June 23rd.  The evidence showed that grievant left
 work on June 22nd, a Thursday, because she was upset with a work
 restriction.  She gave her office key to her supervisor stating, "See you
 around."  She did not return until the following Monday, June 26th, and then
 cleaned out her desk.  When her supervisor stated that he thought she was
 "just blowing off steam," she answered, "well, you were wrong."  Later, she
 declined to put her resignation in writing but did agree to work out a two
 week notice period.

      We will not disturb the Board's findings unless they are clearly
 erroneous.  Grievance of Merrill, 156 Vt. ____, ___, 596 A.2d 345, 348
 (1991).  We conclude that there is adequate evidence in the record to
 support the finding that grievant resigned on June 26th.  The Board could
 find that her explanation that she was trying to open lines of communication
 to force a change in the work restriction was not credible in light of her
 overall conduct. The Board did not err merely by finding a different
 resignation date from that asserted by the Department.

      Finally, grievant argues that the record shows that her employer forced
 her into an involuntary resignation by imposing intolerable working con-
 ditions.  This issue was fully litigated before the Board, which concluded
 that she resigned voluntarily.  The Board concluded that the working
 conditions were not intolerable and the work restrictions were not imposed
 on grievant with the intent to induce her resignation.  Its conclusions are
 supported by its findings, which, in turn, are supported by the evidence.


                                    BY THE COURT:

                                    Frederic W. Allen, Chief Justice

 [ ]  Publish                       Ernest W. Gibson III, Associate Justice

 [ ]  Do Not Publish
                                    John A. Dooley, Associate Justice

                                    James L. Morse, Associate Justice

                                    Denise R. Johnson, Associate Justice