Judge: Dover Downs acted correctly in firing employee

DOVER — A former Dover Downs employee was correctly discharged for just cause after failing to immediately report his arrest in 2015, a judge ruled, and thus ineligible to receive unemployment benefits.

In Superior Court, Thomas A. Wheat Jr. contested a denial of benefits by the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, arguing he reported his arrest to a security manager and personal issues delayed notification to his employer.

Judge Robert B. Young, however, found that Mr. Wheat had signed an employee handbook requiring reporting an arrest to his or her direct manager immediately, and acknowledged the delay and thus broke the rules, according to the six-page opinion issued on July 1.

Mr. Wheat was arrested on criminal charges on June 24, 2015, and was terminated on Aug. 1, 2015, the order indicated.

The court noted Mr. Wheat’s Delaware Division of Gaming Enforcement license was suspended on July 28, 2015, which meant he could not work at Dover Downs.

“[Mr. Wheat] stated that his gaming license had been only suspended, not revoked, at the time he was terminated,” Judge Young wrote.

“Thus, [Wheat] disputed any implication on [Dover Downs’] part that he could not return to work, since it was possible that his license would be reinstated.

According to the opinion, the security manager advised Mr. Wheat to report his arrest to Dover Downs. A delay came “in an effort to retain his employment and income” according to Judge Young.

An appeals board denied Mr. Wheat’s claims Nov. 10, 2015, and he took the matter to Superior Court on Dec. 15, 2015.

Mr. Wheat maintained that Dover Downs was “too harsh” in its decision for termination, should have suspended him instead and waited for resolution of his gaming license, and sought either his job back or unemployment benefits, according to the order.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.