VERRONA A. HARRIS, Claimant-Below, Appellant,
BAYHEALTH MEDICAL CENTER, INC., and Employer-Below, Appellee, UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPEAL BOARD.
Submitted: December 3, 2018
EASON PRIMOS JUDGE.
Verrona Harris (hereinafter "Ms. Harris") has
appealed a decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal
Board (hereinafter the "UIAB") denying her
unemployment benefits because she was discharged from her
employment with Bayhealth Medical Center, Inc. (hereinafter
"Bayhealth") for just cause. The Court's review
is confined to the facts contained in the record, and it is
those facts that are referenced herein. For the reasons set
forth below, the decision of the UIAB is
Factual Background and Procedural History
Harris worked at Bayhealth as a Food Service Supervisor from
August 30, 2004, through March 20, 2018. Ms. Harris was
terminated on the latter date due to fraud, falsification, or
alteration of documents, including those used to calculate
pay; theft; and violation of Bayhealth's values,
accountability, and integrity, among other reasons.
to the record, Bayhealth maintained an "Electronic
Facilities and Equipment Policy" (hereinafter the
"Electronic Policy") prohibiting the sharing of
passwords. Specifically, the Electronic Policy states that
"Bayhealth employees... shall not afford or facilitate
third party access to any electronic facilities at any time:
e.g., permitting another employee... to use your password to
access e-mail when that employee has not been granted access
to e-mail." The Electronic Policy goes on to state
that "[e]mployees engaging in inappropriate use of
Bayhealth owned/leased electronic facilities will be
subjected to disciplinary action up to and including
termination of employment."
Harris was required to sign and acknowledge receipt of
Bayhealth's Electronic Policy, and she received training
on the Electronic Policy in January of 2016, 2017, and 2018.
The training included information regarding HIPAA compliance
as well as data privacy and security. Additionally, the
training included specific information pertaining to password
protection and stated that "[a]ll passwords are unique
(just for you) and cannot be shared whether for e-mail or
other software access."
also utilized a reward program and application, known as
"Driven," whereby employees could be awarded
recognition points by coworkers for outstanding service.
According to Bayhealth, "[t]he Driven program is a
program utilized by Bayhealth employees to reward and
recognize each other for going 'above and beyond' in
the workplace...." Recipients could accumulate points
which could then be used on items or gift cards or could be
converted to a monetary dollar amount, e.g. 1, 000 points
equated to a monetary value of $10.
February 2018, Bayhealth received a complaint that Ms. Harris
was allegedly taking advantage of the Driven program.
Bayhealth conducted an investigation into the complaint and
discovered that Ms. Harris had been signing into the Driven
program using other employees' usernames and passwords
and had been awarding herself recognition points to be
redeemed under her account.Bayhealth was able to trace the
login information to Ms. Harris and determine that Ms. Harris
was logging into accounts from both inside and outside of
Bayhealth between July 2017 and February 2018 and that Ms.
Harris had utilized the login credentials of a number of
Bayhealth employees. It was discovered that Ms. Harris had
accumulated 387, 000 points, which equated to $3, 870.
According to the record, Ms. Harris did not dispute that she
had accessed her coworkers' accounts in order to award
herself recognition points, but she asserted that she had
received their permission to do so.
deemed Ms. Harris's conduct to be fraudulent, and in
violation of the Driven program and the Electronic Policy.
Pursuant to the Corrective Action Policy, Ms. Harris's
conduct was considered fraud constituting a Category 4
offense, meriting immediate termination of employment.
Harris filed a claim for unemployment benefits with the
Delaware Department of Labor, Division of Unemployment
Insurance. The Department of Labor issued its Notice of
Determination on May 3, 2018, and found Ms. Harris
disqualified from receipt of unemployment benefits, holding
that her actions constituted "willful or wanton
misconduct." Ms. Harris filed a timely appeal of that
Notice of Determination, and a hearing was held on June 4,
2018, before an Appeals Referee. The Appeals Referee issued
her Decision the same day, finding that Ms. Harris had been
discharged for just cause. Ms. Harris then filed an appeal to
hearing was held before the UIAB on August 16, 2018. On that
date, the UIAB issued its decision affirming the Appeals
Referee's Decision that Ms. Harris had been discharged
for just cause. The UIAB found sufficient evidence showing
that Ms. Harris had violated Bayhealth's policy
prohibiting the use of coworkers' passwords and
logins. The UIAB therefore found that Ms. Harris
had been discharged for just cause and was disqualified from
the receipt of unemployment benefits. Additionally, the UIAB
stated that Ms. Harris's evidence "purporting to
show that her coworkers gave her permission - even if it was
of record - does not overcome or negate the evidence showing
her [in] violation of [Bayhealth's] policy against
accessing other employees' electronic accounts." Ms.
Harris timely appealed to this Court on August 24, 2018.
Standard of Review
appeal from an administrative board's final order to this
Court is confined to a determination of whether the
board'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 board's findings are conclusive and
will be affirmed if supported by "competent evidence
having probative value." The appellate court does not
weigh the evidence or make its own ...