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The Family Court of State v. Tucker

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

September 25, 2014

THE FAMILY COURT OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, Employer-Below/Appellant,
v.
TERRI TUCKER, Appellant-Below/Appellee and The MERIT EMPLOYEE RELATIONS BOARD, Appellee

Submitted: July 1, 2014.

On Appeal from Decision of the Merit Employee Relations Board.

Kevin R. Slattery, Esquire, Delaware Department of Justice, Attorney for Employer-Below/ Appellant.

Terri Tucker, self-represented.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

ROCANELLI, J.

This is an appeal from the September 11, 2012 decision of the Merit Employee Relations Board ("MERB"). MERB exercised subject matter jurisdiction over this case based on the incorrect legal conclusion that subject matter jurisdiction had been waived. In deciding the case on the merits, MERB did not grant the Appellee relief. Rather, MERB merely admonished the Family Court. Because MERB did not have jurisdiction, MERB's September 11, 2013 decision is legally void.

FACTUAL HISTORY

Terri Tucker ("Appellee") was employed at the Family Court of Delaware in New Castle County as a Judicial Case Processing Supervisor in the Records Unit. Appellee became overwhelmed in the Judicial Case Processing Supervisor position and began sick leave on July 11, 2012. Appellee applied for Family Medical Leave Act ("FMLA leave") on July 16, 2012, submitting physician's reports in support of her application, stating that her ability to work was "zero" and that the date of her ability to return to work was "unknown."

Appellee was granted FMLA leave on July 30, 2012. In the meantime, while awaiting FMLA leave approval, Appellee applied for a vacant Social Service Specialist III ("SSS III") position within Family Court. Appellee was granted an interview for the position, which was scheduled for August 13, 2012.

On August 8, 2012, Appellee sent an email message to the Family Court's Human Resources ("HR Representative") to ask whether Appellee would be able to interview by telephone for the SSS III position because she was out on FMLA leave. The HR Representative informed Appellee that she was ineligible to interview. Appellee responded with a request that the notification of her ineligibility be confirmed in writing. The HR Representative confirmed Appellee's ineligibility in an email message on August 10, 2012, as follows:

I was scheduled to meet with [HR Director] today at 2:30 to discuss your FMLA and how it affects you interviewing, however, he cancelled.
So as it stands, because you are out on FMLA, you will not be able to interview for the [SSS III] position.
On Monday, I will meet with [HR Director] and go over your FMLA paperwork, if [HR Director] has any ...

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