Submitted: August 1, 2017
Chavez Eaton, pro se
A.K. Jarosz, Esquire of the Department of Justice,
Wilmington, Delaware; attorney for the State.
Appeal from the Decision of the Unemployment Insurance
William L. Witham. Jr. Resident Judge
Appellant Chavez Eaton (hereinafter "Mr. Eaton")
has appealed a decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals
Board (hereinafter the "UIAB" or the
"Board"), which determined that Mr. Eaton was
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.
Eaton was discharged from Arch Telecom on October 26, 2016.
Prior to his discharge, Mr. Eaton was reprimanded for taking
unauthorized breaks and was given a written warning regarding
his performance, listing various unacceptable behaviors.
Among these warnings were admonitions that Mr. Eaton follow
his work schedule and take breaks only when approved. Noting
the above facts, the Board found that Mr. Eaton acted
willfully and wantonly in failing to follow the schedule as
well as taking unapproved breaks, was therefore discharged
for cause,  and disqualified from the receipt of
unemployment benefits. Mr. Eaton timely appealed to this Court.
well established that an 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. Evidence is substantial when it is such
that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. The party that attacks the Board's
decision bears the burden of proof.
Mr. Eaton's sole argument for reversal relates to the
merits of the Board's decision. Mr. Eaton argues that the
Board incorrectly determined that he was given a "single
unambiguous warning that proscribed conduct will not be
tolerated, and that discharge would be the consequence."
Mr. Eaton does not deny that he received a written warning
regarding his conduct, or that he was warned that discharge
would be the consequence of the prohibited conduct, rather,
he argues that the notice was ambiguous. In his opening
brief, Mr. Eaton characterized the ambiguity as follows:
Being the fact that Chavez Eaton was given six different
issues pertaining his final warning on October
10th 2016, it is highly improbable that this could
be interpreted as unambiguous.
Eaton provides no case law or other authority to support his
assertion that the warning provided was ambiguous.
Court is unconvinced by Mr. Eaton's argument. As an
initial matter, the Court notes that a "single
unambiguous warning" such as described by Mr. Eaton, is
not necessarily required in every case: "[t]he inquiry
into whether a warning is sufficient to put the employee on
notice is 'very fact specific.'" The requirement
for a "single unambiguous warning, " comes from the
Delaware Supreme Court's decision in Ortiz v.
Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. The facts in
Ortiz are highly distinguishable from those here: in
that case, the employer had previously condoned the
employee's substandard performance. There is no
indication that the requirement imposed in Ortiz
should apply in a case where the employee has been apprised
of his or her impermissible behavior, and such behavior was
met with reprimand. Here, during the Board hearing, Mr. Eaton
admitted to having previously been "written up" for
taking unauthorized breaks. At the end of his testimony, Mr.
Eaton was asked by a Board member, "So you were aware,
according to the information given to you from your Employer
about the issues that were ongoing?" to which Mr. Eaton
the record shows that the written warning unambiguously
advised Mr. Eaton of the specific behaviors for which he was
terminated, i.e., failing to follow his work
schedule and taking unapproved breaks. He was informed that
these behaviors were unacceptable and would result in his
termination if repeated. The Court finds there was
substantial evidence to support the Board's determination
that the notice provided was adequate, that Mr. Eaton's
neglect of his duties was willful and wanton, and that he was