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Smack v. Randstad HR Solutions of DE

Superior Court of Delaware, Sussex

November 8, 2017

Randstad HR Solutions of DE;

          Date Submitted: October 30, 2017

         Dear Ms. Smack:

         Keyauna Smack appeals the decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board ("the Board") that affirmed an Appeals Referee's decision finding Ms. Smack was disqualified from the receipt of unemployment benefits because she voluntarily quit her place of employment. The Board's decision is reversed and remanded for the reasons stated below.

         Nature and Stage of the Proceedings

         Ms. Smack was employed by Randstad HR Solutions of DE ("Employer") on assignment with FedEx, on January 5, 2017. At that time, a representative from FedEx informed Ms. Smack that there would be some "down time" and Ms. Smack filed for unemployment insurance benefits. A claims deputy reviewed Ms. Smack's claim for benefits and determined Ms. Smack had voluntarily quit her employment and, therefore, she was disqualified from the receipt of benefits. Ms. Smack appealed this determination and a hearing was held before an Appeals Referee on March 14, 2017. Ms. Smack appeared at the hearing and a representative for Employer participated in the hearing by telephone. The Appeals Referee subsequently affirmed the claims deputy's decision by way of a written opinion mailed March 24, 2017. Ms. Smack appealed this decision and the Board held a hearing on the matter on April 26, 2017. Employer did not appear at the Board hearing. By way of written decision mailed June 5, 2017, the Board affirmed the Appeals Referee's opinion. Ms. Smack filed a timely appeal with this Court and the matter is ripe for decision.


         1. Standard of Review

         When reviewing a decision of the Board, this Court must determine whether the Board's findings and conclusions of law are free from legal error and are supported by substantial evidence in the record.[1] "Substantial evidence" is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion."[2] The Court's review is limited: "It is not the appellate court's role to weigh the evidence, determine credibility questions or make its own factual findings, but merely to decide if the evidence is legally adequate to support the agency's factual findings."[3]

         Section 3314 of Title 19 of the Delaware Code provides, in pertinent part, that "[a]n individual shall be disqualified for benefits ... [f]or the week in which the individual left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to such work...."[4] "Good cause" is such cause that "would justify one in voluntarily leaving the ranks of the employed and joining the ranks of the unemployed."[5] A claimant's reasons for voluntarily leaving his place of employment may not be personal in nature.[6]

2. Evidence Presented Below

         Ms. Smack testified she initially contracted with the temporary staffing firm Volt. Through Volt, she was on assignment to FedEx when, at some point, FedEx changed its temporary staffing firm from Volt to Employer. At that time, the temporary workers on assignment to FedEx from Volt were automatically transferred over to Employer.

         In January of 2017, George Bowersox, a manager at FedEx and one of the few FedEx employees who dealt with Employer on behalf of the contractors, informed Ms. Smack that volume was low and that she would have some "off time." Ms. Smack then applied for unemployment insurance benefits.

         Bo Barton, Esquire, testified via telephone on behalf of Employer. He introduced into evidence a document titled "Employment Policies and Procedure"; an untitled document referred to as the "Apple Agreement"; and a lengthier document identified as "Talent Agreement" (collectively, "the Documents"). Ms. Smack denied having seen the Documents prior to her date of separation and objected to their admission. Ms. Smack testified she only recalled physically signing tax documents at the FedEx offices. Mr. Barton noted that the Documents had been authenticated as they were sent to a specific email address and could only be accessed by entering the employee's social security number and a personal identification number unique to the employee. The Documents indicate they were electronically acknowledged by Keyauna Smack on December 1, 2015. Ms. Smack testified she did not have ownership or access to the email address to which the Documents were sent for authentication. Mr. Barton testified Employer had no record of a physically signed W-4 or 1-9 form for Ms. Smack. The Appeals Referee deemed the Documents admissible.

         Pursuant to the Documents, Ms. Smack had a responsibility to notify Employer when her assignment ended and to remain in weekly contact with Employer to inform Employer of her availability for other assignments. The parties agree Ms. Smack did not contact Employer until ...

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