The Third Department determined claimant was properly awarded unemployment insurance benefits, despite her signing a stipulation agreeing to resign. The stipulation did not mention any misconduct by the claimant. Claimant’s testimony demonstrated a hostile work environment which provided good cause for her leaving:
As a general proposition, a claimant who voluntarily leaves his or her employment without good cause will not be entitled to receive unemployment insurance benefits … , and the same holds true for a claimant who engages in disqualifying misconduct … . That said, “[a] claimant who voluntarily leaves his or her position in the face of disciplinary charges may qualify for unemployment benefits if the actions did not amount to misconduct” … . “Whether a claimant has engaged in disqualifying misconduct is a factual question for the Board to resolve and its determination will not be disturbed if supported by substantial evidence” … .
Claimant and the employer’s witnesses presented competing accounts of claimant’s work history, her work product, her general demeanor and her interaction with others in her office. Without recounting the extensive testimony offered on these points, suffice it to say that the employer portrayed claimant as an insubordinate malcontent who failed to timely and appropriately complete assignments or respond to various emails or directives. Claimant, on the other hand, testified at length as to the “bullying” and harassment that she endured at the hands of her supervisors, recounted the manner in which she was verbally threatened by certain individuals in her office and disputed the employer’s account of her overall work performance. This conflicting testimony presented factual and credibility issues for the Board to resolve … . As noted previously, the stipulation of settlement entered into between claimant and the employer contained no finding or admission of wrongdoing on the part of claimant. Further, upon crediting claimant’s testimony as to the nature of her work environment and her reasons for resigning, the Board agreed with the ALJ’s findings that claimant’s actions did not rise to the level of disqualifying misconduct but, rather, were undertaken in direct response to her “hostile” and “untenable” work environment — an environment that, in turn, provided “a compelling reason for her to resign.” Matter of Cohen (Commissioner of Labor), 2017 NY Slip Op 05885, 3rd Dept 7-27-17
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (GOOD CAUSE, DESPITE CLAIMANT’S SIGNING A STIPULATION AGREEING TO RESIGN, A HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT PROVIDED GOOD CAUSE FOR HER RESIGNATION 3RD DEPT)/HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT (UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE, DESPITE CLAIMANT’S SIGNING A STIPULATION AGREEING TO RESIGN, A HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT PROVIDED GOOD CAUSE FOR HER RESIGNATION 3RD DEPT)