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Wooten v. Board of Review

November 5, 2009

KENYA WOOTEN, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, AND KOHL'S DEPARTMENT STORES, INC., RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from a Final Decision of the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 173,489.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 26, 2009

Before Judges Rodríguez and Yannotti.

Kenya Wooten appeals from a final determination of the Board of Review (Board) which found that she is disqualified from unemployment benefits as of September 23, 2007, because she left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work. We affirm.

Wooten was employed by Kohl's Department store as a part-time cashier from June 7, 2007, through September 29, 2007. On October 28, 2007, Wooten filed an application for unemployment benefits, which was granted by a deputy claims examiner. Kohl's appealed the deputy's determination to the Appeal Tribunal, and a telephone hearing in the matter took place on January 28, 2008.

At the hearing, Wooten testified that the job "did not turn out to be what [she] [expected][.]" Wooten stated that in July 2007, a customer was "allowed to curse" at her. She said that she had "words" with her supervisor because she "[did not] feel comfortable with working in a position [where] [it was] okay for a customer to curse out an employee." Wooten stated that she "felt threaten[ed]."

Wooten further testified that she left the job because management led to her to believe that the "[c]ustomers are always right and employees [do not] mean anything." She asserted that "when a customer can curse out an employee and... still be allowed to shop in the [store]... that to me is dangerous." Wooten said that she was concerned about her safety but acknowledged that during the first incident, Lori Holmes (Holmes), the assistant store manager, stepped in with store security and "defused" the situation.

Wooten additionally testified that another incident occurred on September 15, 2007. She testified that it was a slow day at the cash register and a customer insisted upon purchasing an item at a price that was not the correct price. The customer accused Wooten of being rude and reported her to an assistant store manager, Rebecca.

In accordance with Kohl's protocol, Wooten was "pulled off the floor" and the customer's complaint was reported to Robin Stephanie (Stephanie), the store manager. Wooten stated that it was "horrible that a customer can complain [about] an employee with no justification[.]" Wooten said that she did not agree with the company's policy and could not "work for Kohl's any longer."

Wooten also said that she felt as if she was being reprimanded. Wooten said that she "was an outstanding employee" who did her job "to the fullest." She stated that she was "the only one" who was "called in the office at every given time for defusing situations[.]" Wooten said that she felt as if she was "being attacked." She conceded that no one at Kohl's threatened to terminate her employment and she had "never been written up."

Holmes testified that she and Stephanie were responsible for disciplining employees. She stated that Rebecca had handled the September 15th incident in accordance with company's protocol. Holmes said that she and Stephanie had decided that no disciplinary action was warranted at that time. Holmes also said that it is Kohl's policy to keep its customers happy. She stated that, when Wooten gave notice that she was leaving, work was available at the store.

The Appeal Tribunal rendered a decision that was mailed to the parties on January 29, 2008. The appeal examiner found that

[t]he claimant's decision to leave employment because she was dissatisfied with the conditions of employment is not justified. The claimant was never threatened with termination. Management was simply following [the] company's protocol in the handling of customers['] complaints. There is, therefore no evidence that the conditions of employment were so severe as to cause the claimant to leave available work to become unemployed. The claimant left work voluntarily without ...


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