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Zavala v. Port to Port International Corp.

Superior Court of Delaware

April 4, 2018

SUENDY ZAVALA, Appellant,
v.
PORT TO PORT INTERNATIONAL CORP., and UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPEAL BOARD, Appellees.

          Date Submitted: January 8, 2018

          Upon Consideration of Appeal from Decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board.

          Suendy Zavala, pro se, Appellant.

          Lauren E.M. Russell, Esquire, YOUNG CONAWAY STARGATT & TAYLOR, LLP, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorney for Appellee Port to Port International Corp.

          Carla Jarosz, Esquire and Victoria W. Counihan, Esquire, DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Wilmington, Delaware. Attorneys for Appellee Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          BUTLER, J.

         INTRODUCTION

         This is an appeal from a decision of the Delaware Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board ("UIAB" or "Board"). Suendy Zavala, the Claimant, urges that the UIAB incorrectly ruled that her separation from employment with Port to Port International Corp. ("Port to Port") was for cause. Finding substantial supporting evidence and no legal error in the proceedings below, the UIAB's decision is AFFIRMED.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         From the record, it appears that Ms. Zavala began her tenure at Port to Port in January of 2014 working in the "Towing Department."[1] Apparently Port to Port is involved in the transit of automobiles into or off of ships at the Port of Wilmington. While all of the work processes in the towing department take us far afield of the issues in dispute, Ms. Zavala believes she was very much responsible for their development

         It came to pass that more employees were added to the towing department, some of whom found Ms. Zavala abrasive and unpleasant to work with. In addition, the department had direct interactions with clients in various Central American countries, some of whom also found her interactions disagreeable. Finally, Ms. Zavala clashed with her immediate supervisor, whom she accused of engaging in deliberate sabotage of her work. All of this was fleshed out in some detail at the hearings below.

         After various less drastic measures had failed to convince Ms. Zavala to adopt a more workmanlike attitude in the office, Port to Port suspended her for a brief period and moved her assignment to the Operations Department, where it was hoped she would have a fresh start.[2] But that move did little to improve things. Ms. Zavala spent much of her time back in the Towing Department or otherwise outside of her now more limited "lane" of responsibilities in the Operations Department. After a brief trial run of a few weeks at this job, Port to Port decided to terminate Ms. Zavala's employment on April 18, 2017.[3]

         Ms. Zavala filed for unemployment compensation benefits. The first hearing, before an Appeals Referee, was attended by Ms. Zavala, her Towing Department Supervisor, and her Operations Department Supervisor. After hearing the evidence, the Referee sided with the employer, ruling that Ms. Zavala was precluded from receiving benefits because her termination was for just cause.

         Thereupon, Ms. Zavala appealed to the full Board where further testimony was taken, now from some of Ms. Zavala's coworkers, both for and against. After considering all of the testimony, the Board concluded that Ms. Zavala's termination was for ...


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