July 23, 2012

Employee terminated for violating employer’s written policy ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits


Employee terminated for violating employer’s written policy ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits
Pagan v Commissioner of Labor, 53 AD3d 964

The Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board disqualified an applicant for unemployment insurance benefits following his termination for accepting a designation to run as a candidate for the State Assembly, ruling that his employment was terminated due to misconduct.

The individual, employed by the New York City Housing Authority, had violated the Authority written policy prohibiting its staff members from running for political office in a partisan election.*

Noting that “It is well settled that "[v]iolation of an employer's reasonable policies may constitute disqualifying misconduct," the Appellate Division said that the Authority’s guidelines were established “to assure compliance with the Hatch Act (5 USC §1501 et seq.) and the City of New York’s Conflicts of Interest Board Rules.”

As the record indicated that the individual was aware of the Authority's guidelines prior to his termination and that he was afforded an opportunity to comply with the policy before any adverse action was taken against him by it, the court ruled that substantial evidence supported the Board's determination finding him guilty of disqualifying misconduct for the purposes of unemployment insurance benefits.

* A candidate seeking election to a school board is typically deemed to be seeking office in a “non-partisan” election.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2008/2008_06414.htm

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