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Christian v. New Castle County Head Start

Superior Court of Delaware

February 16, 2018

CHANTEL A. CHRISTIAN, Appellant,
v.
NEW CASTLE COUNTY HEAD START, WENDY MARSILLI and ROBIN BROWN, Appellees.

          Date Submitted: January 24, 2018

         On Appeal from the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board

          THE HONORABLE ANDREA L. ROCANELLI JUDGE.

         AFFIRMED

         This is an appeal from the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board ("Board"). Upon consideration of the facts, arguments, and legal authority set forth by the parties; statutory and decisional law; and the entire record in this case, the Court hereby finds as follows:

         1. Appellant Chantel A. Christian ("Employee") worked as a Head Teacher at New Castle County Head Start ("Employer") from March 2015 until her termination on April 21, 2017.

         2. Employer has a Social Media Policy and a Disciplinary Action for Cause Policy. The Disciplinary Action for Cause Policy provides, "Any employee who uses a personal website or other form of social media to disparage the name or reputation of [Employer], its practices, its governing bodies, officers, employees, volunteers or partners will be subject to serious disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment." Employee acknowledged receipt of the Social Media Policy and the Disciplinary Action for Cause Policy in March 2015.

         3. On February 7, 2017, Employee made a negative post on her Facebook account regarding Employer and her co-workers. Employee identified herself as a Teacher with Employer on her Facebook account. In addition, Employee's post specifically identified Employer by the acronym "NCCHS."

         4. Employer was informed about Employee's negative social media posts and began an investigation. During the investigation, Employer discovered another negative social media post on Employee's Facebook account regarding her position with Employer.

         5. Employer terminated Employee on April 21, 2017 for violating Employer's Social Media Policy.

         6. Employee filed a claim for unemployment benefits with the Division of Unemployment Insurance. By decision dated May 12, 2017, a Claims Deputy found that Employee was terminated for just cause and disqualified from receiving benefits pursuant to 19 Del. C. § 3314(2) ("Section 3314(2)").

         7. On May 17, 2017, Employee appealed the Claim Deputy's decision to an Appeals Referee. The Appeals Referee held a hearing on June 6, 2017. At the hearing, the Appeals Referee heard testimony from Employer's representatives and Employee. The Appeals Referee also admitted several documents into evidence, including Employee's Facebook posts and Employer's Social Media and Disciplinary Cause for Action Policies.

         8. On June 19, 2017, the Appeals Referee affirmed the Claims Deputy's decision disqualifying Employee from benefits pursuant to Section 3314(2). The Appeals Referee concluded that there was just cause for termination because Employee's violation of Employer's Social Media Policy constituted willful and wanton misconduct.

         9. On June 22, 2017, Employee appealed the Appeals Referee's decision to the Board. The Board held a hearing on July 5, 2017. By decision dated August 7, 2017, the Board affirmed the Appeals Referee's decision disqualifying Employee ...


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