Submitted: July 6, 2017
Appeal from the Decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal
Shannon Neal, pro se
A. K. Jarosz, Esquire of the Department of Justice,
Wilmington, Delaware; attorney for the UIAB.
William L. Witham. Jr. Resident Judge
Shannon Neal (hereinafter "Ms. Neal") has appealed
a decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board
(hereinafter the "UIAB" or the "Board"),
which determined that Ms. Neal's employer, Kidz Ink VI
Inc., (hereinafter "Employer") had just cause to
terminate Ms. Neal, and therefore is disqualified from
receiving unemployment benefits. The Court's review is
confined to the facts contained in the record, and it is
those facts that are referenced herein.
matter stems from the termination of Ms. Neal by Employer on
September 26, 2016, purportedly on the basis that Ms. Neal
violated company policy by enrolling her children at the
facility and failing to pay tuition, and also by directing a
new employee to add fraudulent information to official
tuition documents. Ms. Neal went to the Claims Deputy to seek
unemployment benefits, arguing that she was terminated
without just cause. Ms. Neal claims that in the past, as a
benefit of her employment with Employer, she was provided
with free childcare at Employer's facility. She claims
this policy was later changed without her knowledge, and that
she was unaware of her new obligation to pay for the
childcare services. Ms. Neal asserts that Employer became
upset that she had failed to pay for the childcare services
in a timely fashion and terminated her. The Claims Deputy
initially determined that Employer did not have just cause to
terminate Ms. Neal.
appealed, and after a hearing before an Appeals Referee, the
Claims Deputy's decision was affirmed. Employer again
appealed to the UIAB, and a hearing was scheduled for January
11, 2017. Ms. Neal failed to appear at the UIAB hearing.
Testimony was presented by current employees of Employer,
alleging that Ms. Neal attended a meeting where the policy
change regarding payment for childcare services was
discussed. Finding that Ms. Neal knew of her obligation under
company policy to pay for childcare services, the UIAB
reversed the decision of the Referee, and Ms. Neal was
disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. Ms. Neal
timely appeals to this Court.
opening brief, Ms. Neal argues that the UIAB was mistaken in
determining that Employer had just cause to terminate her.
She also argues that the UIAB wrongly relied on hearsay and
untruthful testimony in reaching its determination.
UIAB's letter response to Ms. Neal's appeal, no
position is taken regarding whether the Board erred in
determining whether Employer had just cause to terminate Ms.
Neal. However, the UIAB does assert that it has discretion to
admit and consider hearsay evidence, as well as discretion to
determine the weight given to evidence and the credibility of
appeal from an administrative board's final order to this
Court is confined to a determination of whether the
UIAB's decision is supported by substantial evidence and
is free from legal error. In its review, this Court does not
weigh the evidence, determine questions of credibility, or
make its own factual findings. Rather, this Court need only
determine whether the evidence is legally adequate to support
the agency's factual findings. The party that attacks the
Board's decision as unreasonable and capricious bears the
burden of proof.
employee terminated for just cause is ineligible to receive
unemployment benefits. An employer may terminate an employee
with just cause for willful violations of company policy.
This Court's just cause analysis proceeds in two steps:
"1) whether a policy existed, and if so, what conduct
was prohibited, and 2) whether the employee was apprised of
the policy, and if so, how was he made aware."
employee may also be terminated with just cause "[w]hen
an employer, because of an employee's wrongful conduct,
can no longer place the necessary faith and trust in an
employee .... This is especially true where the employee has
a responsible position where faith and trust are
there is substantial evidence to support the Board's
conclusion. The first step of the analysis is evident: the
parties are in agreement that the policy regarding payment
for childcare services was changed, and that the new policy
required payment for childcare services rendered. Conversely,
nonpayment for the services was prohibited. The parties
disagree as to when Ms. Neal was made aware of this policy
change. At the hearing, testimony was heard from two
witnesses that an email was sent to all directors, including
Ms. Neal, apprising them of the new policy. The two witnesses
also testified that Ms. Neal was notified of the policy
change at a meeting in May of 2016. While Ms. Neal objects