BRANDEN J. WILMOTH, Appellant,
CONNOLLY FLOORING, INC., and UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPEAL BOARD Appellees.
Submitted: June 21, 2018
Appeal from the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board
Honorable Andrea L. Rocanelli, Judge.
an appeal from the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board
("Board"). Upon consideration of the facts,
arguments, and legal authorities set forth by the parties;
statutory and decisional law; and the entire record in this
case, the Court hereby finds as follows:
Appellant Branden J. Wilmoth ("Employee") worked at
Connolly Flooring, Inc. ("Employer") from April
2016 to November 2017.
Employer has a progressive discipline policy in its handbook.
Employee acknowledged receipt of the employee handbook.
During his employment, Employee was occasionally disciplined
for tardiness and failing to report to work. Employee
eventually received a three-day suspension for attendance
issues. Following the suspension, Employer's Owner
considered Employee to be on his last disciplinary step.
Following the suspension, on or about October 31, 2017,
Employee had an altercation with his manager while at work.
Employer's Owner overheard Employee and the manager
arguing, and approached. The Owner warned Employee to stop
arguing twice. When Employee continued speaking after the
second warning, the Owner told Employee to "get out of
here," and Employee left. Employee was terminated the
next day for insubordination.
Employee filed a claim for unemployment benefits with the
Division of Unemployment. By decision dated November 29,
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
Employee appealed the Claims Deputy's decision to an
Appeals Referee. On December 19, 2017, the Appeals Referee
reversed the Claims Deputy's decision, concluding that
Employer failed to establish by a preponderance of the
evidence that Employee was discharged for just cause.
Employer appealed the Appeals Referee's decision to the
Board. The Board held a hearing on January 31, 2018, and both
March 2, 2018, the Board reversed the decision of the Appeals
Referee ("Board Decision"). The Board found that
Appellant was insubordinate by failing to comply with the
Owner's instruction to stop arguing. Accordingly, the
Board found that Employer had just cause to terminate
Employee, and that Employee was not entitled to unemployment
benefits pursuant to Section 3314(2).
Employee filed a timely appeal of the Board Decision to this
Court. Employee argues that substantial evidence does not
support the Board's conclusion that Employee was
terminated for just cause.
Court reviews the Board Decision for an abuse of
discretion.Accordingly, this Court's review is
limited to determining whether the Board's findings and
conclusions are free from legal error and supported by
substantial evidence on the record. Substantial evidence is
relevant evidence that a reasonable person could accept as
adequate to support a conclusion. If the record contains
substantial evidence to support the Board's conclusion,
the decision will not be disturbed.
Delaware's unemployment statute provides for "the
compulsory setting aside of an unemployment reserve to be
used for the benefit of persons unemployed through no fault
of their own." An employee who is discharged for
"just cause" is disqualified from receiving
unemployment benefits. "Just cause" is "a willful
or wanton act or pattern of conduct in violation of the
employer's interest, the employee's duties, or the
employee's expected standard of
conduct." In the context of unemployment benefits,
the Court has held that "'wilful' [sic]
implies actual, specific, or evil intent, while
'wanton' implies needless, malicious or reckless
conduct, but does not require actual ...