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Gray v. Beebe Medical Center

Superior Court of Delaware

August 13, 2014

Gray
v.
Beebe Medical Center and Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board,

Date Submitted: August 4, 2014

Daniel Gray, pro se

Bruce Leshine, Esquire General Counsel

Beebe Healthcare, Mark J. Swerdlin, Esquire Shawe & Rosenthal, LLP

Catherine C. Damavandi, Esquire Delaware Department of Justice.

Dear Parties

Before the Court is the appeal of Daniel Gray ("Gray") of a decision rendered against him by the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board (the "Board") regarding whether Gray's unemployment was due to an inability to work. Gray was no longer able to complete his duties in the Environmental Services Department of Beebe Medical Center ("Beebe"), which ultimately led to his unemployment. Since Gray's unemployment was brought about by an inability to work as a result of a health condition, the Board held he could not recover unemployment benefits. For the reasons explained below, the Board's decision is AFFIRMED.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Gray was employed by Beebe from June 7, 2004 until June 21, 2013. During this time Gray worked in the Environmental Services Department, both in the laundry and housekeeping divisions. Gray was originally hired in the laundry division. Later all employees were required to begin cross-training in the various Environmental Services divisions. Therefore, Gray began training in the housekeeping division. Soon his job included responsibility in both divisions.

In June 2013, Gray had a pulmonary episode at work that sent him to the emergency room. After treatment and meeting with his physician, Dr. Fabricio Alaracon ("Dr. Alacaron"), Gray was informed that his episode was a bronchospasm brought about by exposure to cleaning chemicals used in the housekeeping division. Gray was told he could return to work as long as he did not work in the housekeeping division, although continued work in the laundry division was permissible. Dr. Alacaron sent a note to Beebe explaining Gray's limitations, but the hospital alleges they did not receive the note. On June 21, 2013, Gray attempted to return to work, but was asked to leave until Beebe could properly sort out his medical documentation and limitations. Throughout June and July of 2013, Gray, Dr. Alacaron, and Beebe sought to resolve the situation. Dr. Alacaron sent notes to Beebe on July 1, 2013 and July 16, 2013. Beebe sought further clarification of Gray's condition on July 23, 2013. The main concern was whether Gray's position in the laundry division would expose him to cleaning chemicals because the laundry division is responsible for cleaning the mop heads and rags used by housekeeping. Dr. Alacaron's response only indicated that Gray could work in laundry division, but not in the housekeeping. On August 16, 2013, Gray was informed that he could continue work in the laundry division, and that the hospital could occasionally call on him to work in housekeeping, as long as he was not exposed to cleaning chemicals. Gray was not satisfied with this arrangement, and refused to go back to work.

Subsequent to his unemployment, Gray filed for unemployment insurance benefits with the Delaware Department of Labor's Division of Unemployment Insurance (the "Division"). The Claims Deputy found that Gray's unemployment was due to his inability to work, thus disqualifying him from unemployment benefits. Gray filed a timely appeal to an Appeals Referee. The initial hearing before the Referee was held on September 10, 2013; however, Beebe was unable to attend the hearing. Therefore, a second hearing was granted, and held on January 2, 2014. A second Appeals Referee found that Gray was unable to work, and that he could not receive benefits pursuant to 19 Del. C. § 3314(8). After this determination, Gray appealed to the Board. The Board affirmed the decision of the Appeals Referee. Gray has filed an appeal of the Board's finding with this Court.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

When reviewing appeals from the Board, this court will only examine the record upon which the Board relied in making its decision.[1] The Court will only consider whether substantial evidence supported the Board's decision, and whether the Board's decision was free from legal error.[2] The necessary degree of evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion."[3] Evaluating the evidence, deciding credibility issues, and determining factual questions are not ...


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