Link to PDF file

No. 32163 -      Amanda A. Frymier v. Higher Education Policy Commission and Glenville State College

Maynard, Justice, concurring:

            I am writing separately in this case because it has been suggested that W.Va. Code § 18B-7-1 (2004) should be interpreted to mean that any change in the terms and conditions of employment of an employee covered by the statute constitutes a reduction in force. In effect, my dissenting colleagues would subject every administrative decision which changes the status of an employee of a state institution of higher education to the “bumping” requirements of the statute. Such an interpretation of the statute would distort the clear intent of the Legislature and would disrupt the management of those institutions by requiring the reshuffling of employees every time an administrator tries to cut costs. Furthermore, the constant need to re-train employees with greater seniority who have “bumped” their way into other positions could actually lead to higher costs and less efficiency.

            The majority's decision in this case is in accordance with this Court's long- standing rules of statutory interpretation. Specifically,

                [C]ourts must presume that a legislature says in a statute what it means and means in a statute what it says there . . . [i]t is not the province of the courts to make or supervise legislation, and a statute may not, under the guise of interpretation, be modified, revised, amended, distorted, remodeled or rewritten . . . [and] [i]f the language of an enactment is clear and within the constitutional authority of the lawmaking body which passed it, courts must read the relevant law according to its unvarnished meaning, without any judicial embroidery.

State v. Richards
, 206 W.Va. 573, 577, 526 S.E.2d 539, 543 (1999) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Clearly, W.Va. Code § 18B-7-1 only applies to “reductions in work force of full-time classified personnel, whether by temporary furlough or permanent termination.” (Emphasis added). Since Ms. Frymier was not permanently terminated or subject to a temporary layoff, the statute at issue has no application. Accordingly, I concur with the majority's decision in this case.