On appeal from a Final Decision of the Board of Review, Department of Labor and Workforce Development, 154,194.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 6, 2008
Before Judges R. B. Coleman and Sabatino.
Frail Abdelmessih ("claimant") appeals a final determination of the Board of Review denying his petition for unemployment benefits. We affirm.
These are the pertinent facts that emerged at the hearing before the Appeal Tribunal. Claimant was employed as a driver for Aerotek Aviation, LLC ("Aerotek"), a company that does on-site maintenance work at Newark Airport. On Friday, June 1, 2007, claimant's immediate supervisor notified Aerotek's site manager, Patricia McKascle, that claimant had been badgering and threatening a female co-worker, L.H., on the job site that week. That same day, L.H. called McKascle herself and reiterated her complaint of harassment. According to McKascle, L.H. broke down in tears during their conversation.
The record indicates that claimant and L.H. were once close friends and had even car pooled together, but their relationship eventually soured. After that rift occurred, L.H. requested and obtained a change in her work schedule. Claimant requested a similar shift change, but it was denied. Upset about this, claimant allegedly started yelling at and harassing L.H. while she was at work. Other fellow employees interceded and asked him to leave her alone.
The following week, McKascle arranged a meeting at the work site to address the complaints about claimant's behavior. The meeting with McKascle included claimant, L.H., and a manager from Delta Airlines. The Delta manager was involved because he routinely scheduled the work of claimant and other Aerotek employees on Delta's equipment.
McKascle's testified that claimant became agitated during the meeting, gesturing at the Delta manager and accusing him of giving special treatment to L.H. Claimant started to yell and scream. When McKascle was unable to calm him down, McKascle directed claimant to leave the job site and take a few days off. Claimant refused to do so. He instead became more agitated, according to McKascle, "raising his voice over and over."
Claimant's agitated behavior prompted McKascle to call the Port Authority police. An officer soon arrived, taking claimant's identification badge from him and escorting him off the premises.
McKascle recalled that about two months before their June 2007 meeting, claimant had similarly become irate at his immediate supervisor, threatening him in McKascle's presence. According to McKascle, claimant's face had "turned total colors" before McKascle was able to get between the two men and subdue claimant.
Following these incidents, McKascle spoke with her supervisor in Atlanta, who instructed McKascle to terminate claimant. Accordingly, claimant was discharged on June 3, 2007, on the grounds of misconduct. He thereafter applied for unemployment benefits for the period from June 3 through July 14, 2007.
In claimant's own testimony before the Appeal Tribunal, he denied harassing L.H. He accused L.H. of "trying to use anything to make a problem" for him. Claimant asserted that he had been "doing good work" at Aerotek and had been "fired unjustly." He contended that he was experiencing health problems, and that he had not been able to find other work.
After considering this testimony, the appeals examiner concluded that claimant had been discharged "due to the insubordinate behavior he had demonstrated at the meeting [with McKascle]." Crediting McKascle's testimony, the examiner specifically found that claimant had been "repeatedly asked" by his superiors to maintain his composure, but had "continued [to be agitated], albeit the employer's instruction." Consequently, the examiner determined that claimant had engaged in misconduct connected with the work and was therefore ineligible for unemployment benefits ...