Published On: Fri, Dec 20th, 2013

GCC erred in approving paid holidays to county employees

Judge James J. Rowe reversed a decision made by the Greenbrier County Commission in which he ruled that body had no authority to designate. At issue is the decision the commission made at the regularly scheduled Nov. 26 meeting to close the courthouse on Dec. 24 and 31 as a paid holiday for courthouse employees. The judge ruled the circuit clerk’s office and the magistrate court must be open at least a half day on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

“While the county commission is thereby at liberty to prescribe the regular hours during which business may ordinarily be conducted, this does not authorize the county commission to designate legal holidays,” Rowe wrote as an administrative order. The only governing body allowed to designate state and local paid holidays is the state legislature. Rowe’s order states the law is designed to protect members of the public who need to conduct business on those days the commission “improperly closed” the courthouse.

Additionally, Rowe cited the Administrative Rules of the West Virginia Division of Personnel concerning the two holidays: “When Christmas or New Year’s Day occurs on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, the last half of the scheduled workday immediately preceding the holiday is given as time off,” Rowe said. “However, in as much as the first half of the day is not a legal holiday or otherwise designated as time off for West Virginia personnel, the Office of the Circuit Clerk must open and must be accessible to members of the public who may wish to conduct business with that office, and the Greenbrier County Commission is obliged to ensure that the courthouse doors are open with adequate security.”