Board of Education of County of Wood v. Airhart
In Board of Education of County of Wood v. Airhart, 212 W.Va. 175, 569 S.E.2d 422 (2002), school board employees initiated a grievance based upon lack of uniformity in a 240-day/261-day controversy.
The Airhart appellants, having been employed under 240-day annual contracts, had presented testimony regarding their performance of the same duties and responsibilities as various other employees working under 261-day annual contracts.
In finding that the appellants were entitled to 261-day contracts, the Court held as follows in syllabus point five:
"Where county board of education employees perform substantially similar work under 261-day and 240-day contracts, and vacation days provided to 261-day employees reduce their annual number of work days to level at or near the 240-day employees, principles of uniformity demand that the similarly situated employees receive similar benefits." (212 W.Va. at 177, 569 S.E.2d at 424.)
In Airhart, the Court clarified that employees would not be considered to have waived their right to a 261-day contract because they signed a 240-day contract.
The Court explained:
"The BOE's contention that the Appellants waived their right to the benefits of a 261-day contract by applying for and accepting a 240-day contract is without merit. When the Appellants bid on the 240-day positions, they did not have the option of insisting on a 261-day contract or the benefits provided to a 261-contract employee, and they did not intentionally forego the opportunity for paid vacation. No waiver can be implied from this situation, and we decline to establish a principle that acceptance of a position serves as a waiver of one's statutory rights to uniformity with fellow employees." (212 W.Va. at 181, 569 S.E.2d at 428.)
In Airhart, this Court held as follows: "While the Appellants' initial acceptance of the 240-day contract did not preclude them from later filing a grievance based upon the absence of uniformity, we find that their acceptance of the 240-day contract and performance of duties thereunder renders back pay inappropriate." 212 W.Va. at 182, 569 S.E.2d at 429.
The Airhart Court further stated: "We are not persuaded that in all these circumstances this discrimination represented an intentional effort by the Board to deprive these employees of appropriate compensation and benefits." Id., 569 S.E.2d at 429.