Worker refusing to accept reassignment to a similar position held disqualifying misconduct for the purpose of receiving unemployment insurance benefits
Matter of Miles v Commissioner of Labor, 2008 NY Slip Op 06530, decided on August 7, 2008, Appellate Division, Third Department
Stacey N. Miles was employed as a higher education assistant for a college in New York City. When Miles was told that she was to be reassigned from the affirmative action office to a position with similar duties in College’s the student enrollment services counseling center, she refused to accept the new position, contending that it constituted a demotion in retaliation for complaints she had made against the college president.
Miles was terminated and applied for unemployment insurance benefits.
The Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, noting that the new position Miles refused to accept entailed duties similar to her former position and had the same salary, hours and payroll title, ruled that she was disqualified from receiving unemployment insurance benefits because her employment had been terminated due to her misconduct.
The Appellate Division, sustaining the Board’s determination, noted that “A claimant's refusal to comply with the reasonable request of an employer may constitute disqualifying misconduct.
Here, said the court, the College’s reassignment was reasonable inasmuch as the duties of the new position were similar to those Miles had been performing and the terms were essentially the same.
Miles contended that she had refused to accept the new position because she believed it resulted from her prior complaints against the college president and she was concerned that she would receive negative evaluations resulting in her discharge.
Noting that the College’s human resources director testified that there was no retaliation while Miles offered contrary testimony, the Appellate Division said that this presented a credibility issue for the Board to resolve.
The full text of the decision is posted at: