January 21, 2011

Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board determines if there is disqualifying misconduct for the purposes of receiving unemployment insurance benefits

Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board determines if there is disqualifying misconduct for the purposes of receiving unemployment insurance benefits
Matter of Green v Village of Hempstead, 2011 NY Slip Op 00137, Appellate Division, Third Department

The Village of Hempstead dismissed Deputy Village Attorney Donna M. Green from her position for alleged misconduct. When the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board approved unemployment insurance benefits for Green, the Village appealed.

Hempstead argued that that the credible evidence established that Green was discharged for conducting her private legal practice on “Village time,” and that her discharge was not, as she claimed, merely politically motivated.

The Appellate Division said that whether an employee was terminated for misconduct is a factual question for the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board to resolve. Thus, said the court, “its resolution of this issue will not be disturbed if supported by substantial evidence, citing Matter of Ponce, 75 AD3d 1041.

According to the decision, Hempstead said that it had given three memoranda to Green concerning her performance of her duties but Green had testified that she had received only one of these three documents prior to her termination -- and she refuted the claims stated within the documents.

Further, the court said that two witnesses supporting Green’s allegation that she and other members of the Village’s legal staff were discharged for political reasons following the election of a new mayor, and the employer did not offer evidence refuting this testimony.

As to the merits of Hempstead’s opposition to the Board’s determination, the Appellate Division, after reviewing the conflicting evidence, noted that Green's occasional receipt of private legal mail at her Village office, “standing alone, did not conclusively establish that she conducted her private practice on the employer's time.”

The Appellate Division found that “there was no other evidence of wrongdoing [on the part of Green]” and her tardiness on one occasion “does not necessarily constitute disqualifying misconduct … even if [Green’s] explanation was inaccurate. ” citing Matter of Massucci, 8 AD3d 737.

Thus, concluded the court, substantial evidence supports the Board's conclusion that [1] Green had not engaged in disqualifying misconduct and [2] she was entitled to unemployment insurance benefits.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2011/2011_00137.htm

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