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Jewell v. Stetser

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle County

September 14, 1961

George H. JEWELL, Jr., Appellant,
Albert STETSER, William Bodenstedt, Homer H. Pepper, Wilbert Rawley, being the Chairman and Associate Commissioners of the Unemployment Compensation Commission of the State of Delaware, and Chrysler Corporation, a corporation of the State of Delaware, Appellees.

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John M. Bader (of Bader & Biggs), Wilmington, for appellant.

Donald W. Booker (of Coxe, Booker, Walls & Cobin), Wilmington, and Jacob Kreshtool, Wilmington, for Unemployment Compensation Commission.

Joseph H. Geoghegan (of Berl, Potter & Anderson), Wilmington, for Chrysler Corp.

LYNCH, Judge.

The appellant (herein referred to as Claimant), was first employed by Chrysler Corporation (herein referred to as Employer),[54 Del. 3] on October 24, 1957. He was laid off on September 23, 1960,--part of a mass lay-off for lack of work. A letter, dated October 14, 1960 and addressed to Claimant, was sent to him by Employer by certified mail to his last known address in Newark, Delaware. The letter directed Claimant to 'report to the employment office for interview at 9:30 A. M. Tuesday, October 18, 1960'.

Delivery of the certified letter was made at Claimant's last known address but his father refused to accept delivery on October 15, 1960. Claimant did not report, as directed, on October 18, 1960 in any part of the Employer's plant on that day. Claimant was reporting to his Employer's premises every week during this period of time in connection with his claim for SUB benefits. It appears that he was there on October 25, 1960 and talked with a Mr. Bundy, a Chrysler employee, and that the matter of his failing to report on October 18 was discussed. Mr. Bundy then learned that Claimant had never received the letter of October 14, 1960 which called him for an interview on October 18.

It was established that Mr. Bundy was the Employment Supervisor, Delaware Defense Plant, Chrysler Corporation, and that he was in charge of and responsible for hiring, lay off, recall, transferring of employees at the Chrysler Defense Plant; it also was established that he had no authority or jurisdiction at the Chrysler Assembly Plant on October 18, 1960 and could not have hired Claimant, pursuant to the notice of October 14, 1960 sent by certified mail.

It appears from the letter of October 14, 1960 that Claimant was recalled to report at the employment office of the Assembly Plant for interview. A Mr. Gilmore was the Employment Supervisor there, with authority and jurisdiction to employ Claimant and the others to whom had been sent the notice of October 14, 1960, recalling them for interview for work in the Assembly Plant.

[54 Del. 4] Claimant's attorney contends that the communication of October 14, 1960 'was not a notice of a definite existing job' but only advised him to report for an interview; he also notes that Mr. Gilmore testified on remand that customarily (including the instant case) notices to report for interview were sent to more people, by approximately 10%, than there were job openings for, and that this was intended to take

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care of cases where people failed to get the notice or failed to report. It is claimed in Claimant's behalf that Mr. Gilmore admitted that the notice sent to Claimant would be fairly characterized as 'a recall for interview for work', and from the general tenor of Mr. Gilmore's testimony it appears that the matter of notifying people to come in for interviews was something in the nature of a shotgun proposition, rather than an invitation to certain individuals to report for specified jobs.

For example, says Claimant's attorney, Mr. Gilmore indicated that if more people than they expected reported in response to letters, they would probably be able to put them all to work by stretching it out just a little bit. The way he put it was, 'I would be able to hire them all within a reasonable amount of time.'

Claimant's attorney further notes that in response to the question immediately following the last statement, Mr. Gilmore said, 'We were hiring almost daily up until November 23' and, says Claimant's attorney, it is reasonably clear, therefore, that Claimant could have been put to work on one of the occasions when he came in to report in connection with the SUB benefits.

Claimant's father testified before the Unemployment Compensation Commission in his behalf, and said the October 14, 1960 communication, sent by certified mail, had been brought to the Jewell home by the Post Office service and that, thinking it was intended for him, he refused to accept delivery of the October 14, 1960 communication.

[54 Del. 5] The Appeals' Referee set out the basic contentions of the parties:----

'The employer contends that it had fulfilled its obligation to the claimant when a recall registered letter ...

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