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June 24, 2010

Employee terminated after failing to follow the employer's policy denied unemployment insurance benefits

Employee terminated after failing to follow the employer's policy denied unemployment insurance benefits
Matter of Cruz , 288 A.D.2d 813

Angel Cruz was dismissed from his position of Director of Public Safety and Security at the City University's Queens College campus. The reason for his termination: he failed to report allegations of sexual harassment made against members of his staff to the Colle­ge's Sexual Harassment Panel. The College's policy required supervisors to report such incidents to the Panel.

The Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board subsequently rejected Cruz's claim for unemployment insurance benefits after finding that he was discharged for "disqualifying misconduct."

The Appellate Division affirmed the Board's ruling, holding that "[i]t is well settled that a claimant's knowing failure to comply with the employer's established policies and pro­cedures can constitute disqualifying misconduct, especially in cases where such failure could jeopardize the employer's best interest."

According to the decision, Cruz admitted that he had twice failed to report allegations of sexual harassment that had been filed against members of his staff. His failure to do so, said the court, prevented the College from taking prompt action to address the allegations, thereby exposing it to potential liability.

Under these circumstances, the Appellate Division said that there was "no reason to dis­turb the decision of the Board finding that [Cruz] lost his job under disqualifying circum­stances."

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