Saturday, December 3, 2011

NEW YORK UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE - HEARINGS AND APPEALS - MISCONDUCT OR SEPARATION WITH GOOD CAUSE - CASE NO. 7

This case is from 1983 on the issue of "constant nagging" and/or harassment:

NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Unemployment Insurance Division
Adjudication Services Office
June 30, 1983

Interpretation Service - Benefit Claims
VOLUNTARY LEAVING
Grievances and Objections
SUPERVISOR'S USE OF PROFANITY

A supervisor's continuing use of abusive profanity when reprimanding the claimant, despite complaints to the employer, provides good cause for voluntary leaving of employment.

A.B. 337,447

FINDINGS OF FACT: Claimant, a general laborer, was employed by a frozen foods company for approximately eight months until April 24, 1982. During the course of his employment, claimant's supervisor developed a pattern of reprimanding the claimant and using profanities and foul language. The final incident occurred when the claimant did maintenance work on some of the employer's equipment, a job which the supervisor believed to be his own responsibility. In reprimanding the claimant, his supervisor engaged in the same pattern of profanity which he had previously used toward claimant during his employment. On at least two occasions, claimant complained to the employer and requested to be moved to another job. No action was taken by the employer. Claimant subsequently resigned his employment because he was unable to tolerate the supervisor's abusive language.

OPINION: The credible evidence now before the Board establishes that the claimant resigned his employment because he could not tolerate the abusive language directed towards him by his supervisor. The fact that claimant remained in this employment situation despite a developing pattern of abusive profanity, and requested a transfer to another job indicates a valid effort to retain his employment. However, the claimant was not obliged to continue to subject himself to his supervisor's profanity and abuse in order to safeguard his employment. Even if the employer's contentions were true, that claimant's supervisor addresses all of his subordinates in a like manner, this does not operate to deprive claimant of a valid basis for resigning his employment. Accordingly, we conclude that claimant's separation from his employment occurred under non-disqualifying conditions because he did have good cause to resign his employment.

DECISION: The initial determination of the local office is overruled. The decision of the administrative law judge is reversed.

COMMENTS

It is an employer's prerogative to criticize or reprimand an employee, and resentment of a reprimand usually is not good cause to voluntarily leave employment.
However, good cause may exist when the reprimand:bears no relation to the claimant's work or to reasonable work rules, but is directed instead at the claimant's personal characteristics or private life; or exceeds the bounds of propriety by casting aspersions upon the claimant's integrity, making insulting personal references, including name calling, or employing profanity when such language is not customarily used by most workers in the industry or workplace; or adversely affects the claimant's health, even if the criticism is otherwise proper, if there is medical substantiation that the claimant's physical or mental well being is threatened; provided the claimant in each of these situations has informed the employer but obtained no relief."

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