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Lamberth v. Brandywine Counseling

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

July 23, 2013


Submitted: April 25, 2013

On Appeal from the Decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board

Marilyn Lamberth, Pro Se Appellant.

Lori A. Brewington, Esquire and Jennifer C. Jauffret, Esquire, Richards, Layton & Finger, P.A., Wilmington, Delaware, Attorneys for Appellee Brandywine Counseling.

Lynn A. Kelly, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Appellee the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board.


Diane Clarke Streett Judge

Appellant Marilyn Lamberth (the "Claimant") has appealed the October 21, 2012 decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board (the "Board"). The Board affirmed the Appeals Referee's determination that Claimant was ineligible for unemployment benefits because she voluntarily resigned from her position with Appellee Brandywine Counseling & Community Services (the "Employer") without good cause. In her appeal, Claimant maintains that she is entitled to unemployment benefits and reiterates her contention that she was "forced" to resign from her position.

Factual Background

The Board held a hearing on September 26, 2012. Witnesses included Claimant, three of her co-workers (Latisha Ferby, Amy Limosino, and Mark Cosenta), Claimant's Clinical Supervisor (Nicole Taylor), Claimant's Program Manager (Domenica Personti), and Employer's Human Resources Director (Denise Stypinski).[1]

The record showed that Claimant was employed at will as an Intensive Outpatient Program Counselor with Employer's Drug Diversion Program from August 2011 until March 2, 2012.[2] During the course of her employment, Claimant received one verbal warning, one written warning, a notification that her introductory period would be extended, and one suspension without pay. Claimant drafted a letter of resignation within hours of receiving the suspension.

On January 6, 2012, Employer issued a verbal warning to Claimant for her failure to appropriately handle a suicidal client.[3] Claimant had failed to immediately contact her supervisor, complete a safety contract, and provide a referral for the suicidal client to be evaluated by mental health services. Nicole Taylor, Claimant's supervisor, testified that she (Taylor) met with Claimant, issued a verbal warning, witnessed Claimant sign the corrective action notification pertaining to the verbal warning, and provided Claimant with a copy in accordance with procedures.[4] Claimant denied meeting with Taylor or receiving a verbal warning, stated that she received her first corrective action notification on February 7, 2012, and claimed that neither her signature nor acknowledgement were on the January 6th form (inferring that someone had forged her signature).[5]

On February 7, 2012, approximately one month later, Employer issued a corrective action notification of a written warning for Claimant's failure to follow policy. It was alleged that Claimant failed to immediately contact her supervisor about a separate incident involving the same client.[6] Amy Limosino, Claimant's co-worker and a fellow counselor, testified that she overheard the client tell Claimant that the client had taken four extra methadone pills on January 26, 2012. However, Claimant failed to take any action. In addition, Claimant received the written warning because she did not complete court reports that were to be submitted to her supervisor on January 27, 2012 and then she incorrectly uploaded the reports to the court.

Also on February 7, 2012, separate from the corrective action notification (written warning), Employer extended Claimant's probationary period through May 15, 2012 based on "performance deficiencies" and issued an "Introductory Period Extension Notification."[7]

On February 13, 2013, Claimant submitted to Human Resources a written request for review of the employer's actions taken with respect to the incidents on January 6, 2012 and February 7, 2012.[8] That same day, Claimant met with Denise Stypinski, Human Resources Director for Employer.[9] Stypinski testified that she explained to Claimant that Employer does not make it a practice to forge documents and that the January 6, 2012 corrective action would stand regardless of whether Claimant's signature was on the form.[10] Stypinski also informed Claimant that she would look into Claimant's complaints, speak with Claimant's supervisors, and follow up with Claimant but she did not promise her a second meeting.

On February 20, 2012, Stypinski sent a follow up email to Claimant informing Claimant that she reviewed the corrective action notifications and concurred with the actions that were taken.[11] She also responded ...

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