EMPLOYMENT LAW NEWS: Unemployment decision emphasizes consistent application of work rules
by Anne-Marie Storey, Esq.
A recent decision from the unemployment commission demonstrates why it is important to enforce your work rules consistently. According to the reported summary of the case, an employee became involved in a heated exchange with her supervisor. During that exchange, the supervisor either slapped the employee on the arm or brushed her arm out of his way. The employee did not engage in any physical contact with the supervisor but reportedly acted in a confrontational way. Ultimately, the employee was terminated for “gross insubordination”. The supervisor was not disciplined for his behavior toward the employee. Although the Commission initially ruled the employee was terminated for misconduct and thus not entitled to unemployment benefits, the Superior Court reversed that decision. The Court determined that although it was reasonable to require an employee to follow work rules, including a rule prohibiting confrontational behavior, that behavior occurred by both individuals in this incident and therefore the rule was applied inconsistently because the supervisor was not disciplined at all. Thus, the employee was determined to have been discharged without misconduct.