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Carbajal v. Landscape Service Co.

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

July 21, 2015

PEDRO CARBAJAL, Appellant,
v.
LANDSCAPE SERVICE CO., & UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPEALS BOARD, Appellees.

Submitted: July 2, 2015

On Appeal from the Decisions of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board

Pedro L. Carbajal, Pro Se, for Appellant.

Paige J. Schmittinger, Deputy Attorney General, for the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.

Honorable Andrea L. Rocanelli Judge

This is an appeal by Pedro Carbajal ("Claimant") from a determination of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board ("UIAB") issued on December 12, 2014 in Case No. 20965332. The UIAB found that Claimant was discharged from his employment for just cause, and therefore was disqualified from the receipt of unemployment benefits. Claimant filed this appeal regarding the UIAB's decision. For the reasons set forth below, the decision of the UIAB is affirmed.

Board's Factual Findings

Claimant worked for Landscape Service Co. ("Employer") as a full-time groundsperson from March 31, 2014 to August 19, 2014. Both Employer and Claimant agree that Claimant was hired under the condition that he would obtain a Commercial Driver's License ("CDL") within four months of his employment. Claimant passed the written portion of the CDL exam, but failed the driving portion on four separate occasions. On August 19, 2014, Claimant failed the driving portion of the CDL exam for the fourth time and was discharged on the same day.

Procedural History

The Department of Labor issued a Notice of Determination on September 19, 2014 disqualifying Claimant from the receipt of unemployment insurance benefits after being discharged for just cause in connection with his work. Claimant filed a timely appeal of the decision.

An Appeals Referee conducted an Unemployment Insurance Appeals Hearing on October 10, 2014. Following the hearing, the Appeals Referee issued an opinion on October 16, 2014 reversing the determination that Claimant was disqualified from unemployment insurance benefits. The Appeals Referee's decision relied on Starkey v. Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board.[1] The Superior Court in Starkey established that just cause for termination "does not mean mere inefficiency, unsatisfactory conduct, or failure of performance as a result of inability or incapacity, inadvertence in isolated instances or good faith errors of judgment."[2] The Appeals Referee concluded that Claimant's failure to obtain his CDL was the result of inability rather than misconduct. As a result, the Appeals Referee determined that the Claimant was eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits.

Employer filed a timely appeal of the Appeals Referee's decision. The UIAB held a hearing on November 12, 2014. In a decision issued on December 12, 2104, the UIAB reversed the decision of the Appeals Referee. The UIAB concluded that Claimant had been given sufficient opportunity to pass the CDL driving exam and that he did not make an effort to pass. As a result, the UIAB found that Claimant was discharged for just cause and, therefore, was disqualified from the receipt of unemployment benefits.

Standard of Review

The Court's appellate review of decisions of the UIAB is limited. The scope of review for any court considering a decision of the UIAB is whether the UIAB abused its discretion. Absent abuse of discretion, the Court must uphold a decision of the UIAB.[3] An appellate review of a decision by the UIAB is limited to determining whether the UIAB's finding and conclusions are free from legal error and are supported by substantial evidence in the record.[4] Substantial evidence is relevant evidence that a reasonable person could ...


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