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Moore v. New Hub, LLC

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

September 16, 2014

JUDY MOORE, Appellant,
v.
NEW HUB, LLC, Appellee.

Submitted: August 13, 2014

Upon Consideration of Appellant's Appeal from the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board

Judy Moore, Pro se.

New Hub, LLC, Pro se.

Stacey Stewart, Esquire, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware for Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board.

ORDER

Robert B. Young J.

SUMMARY

Judy Moore ("Appellant"), appeals the decision of the Unemployment Insurance Board ("the Board") disqualifying her from receiving unemployment benefits. Appellant worked as a housekeeping manager for New Hubb, LLC ("New Hub") at the Hampton Inn of Middletown. After a series of mishaps involving, among other things, hostile and public altercations with other employees, Appellant was terminated from her post. The Department of Labor ("the Department") issued a decision disqualifying Appellant from receiving benefits, finding that she had been terminated for just cause. The Appeals Referee reversed and on appeal, the Board reversed the decision of the Referee, affirming the Department. The Court finds that the Board's decision was properly founded in substantive evidence and was free from legal error. The decision of the Board is AFFIRMED.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL POSTURE

Appellant was previously employed as a housekeeping manager at the Hampton Inn of Middletown, where she had worked for five consecutive years from July 2008 to October 2013. Appellant's difficulties began in July of 2013, when she was officially reprimanded on the 19th by the General Manager, Linda Dunn, for gossiping. Appellant further instructed that gossiping about other workers was against company policy, and that she would be terminated if such behavior continued. On September 26 and 27, 2013, Appellant was suspended for failing to perform her duties adequately.

Upon returning to work on September 28, 2013, Appellant engaged in an altercation with two of the other employees named Renee Rothwell and Sunshine Shampois. The parties dispute whether it was Appellant or the other employees who instigated the confrontation, however, all agree that the genesis of the dispute was Appellant's allegation that Ms. Rothwell had derisively spoken about Appellant's suspension. Appellant further alleges that other co-workers, including Ms. Shampois, had posted similarly offensive comments on the social media website Facebook. One other Hampton Inn employee, Charlotte Jones, claims to have witnessed the confrontation, alleging that Appellant followed Ms. Rothwell around the workplace verbally abusing her.

On September 30, 2013, the three hotel employees who witnessed and/or had been involved in the altercation informed Ms. Dunn of their version of events. Each had made statements that the Appellant was the instigator of the row. Ms. Dunn determined that Appellant was in violation of her July 19, 2013 warning and two employee handbook rules: rule number 3, prohibiting discussion of personal matters at work, and rule number 11, prohibiting disrespectful behavior. Ms. Dunn terminated Appellant on October 1, 2013.

The Department issued a decision disqualifying the Appellant from receiving unemployment insurance benefits on October 29, 2013, finding that Appellant had been dismissed for just cause. On appeal, the Referee reversed the decision of the Department, holding that the evidence against Appellant was largely based on hearsay. At the hearing, only Ms. Dunn was interviewed. Her information regarding Appellant's behavior on September 28, 2013, stemmed primarily from the statements of three hotel employees who were not present at the hearing.

New Hubb appealed the decision of the Referee to the Board. On February 5, 2014, the Board issued its Opinion, this time siding with New Hubb, and reversing the Referee. Notably, the three hotel employees whose testimony constituted the bulk of the evidence against Appellant, appeared as witnesses at this hearing, The Board held that ...


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