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Gumbs v. Delaware Department of Labor

Superior Court of Delaware, Sussex

March 27, 2015

Trina R. Gumbs
v.
Delaware Department of Labor

Dear Counsel:

In this case, Plaintiff asserts the Delaware Department of Labor, allegedly, engaged in unemployment discrimination and violated the Equal Pay Act ("EPA").[1] A motion to dismiss was filed, and the parties briefed their legal positions while the Court reserved decision. [2] In the interim, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint removing the cause of action regarding EPA violations, Count

II.[3] Subsequently, Plaintiff filed suit in Federal District Court seeking relief under the EPA.[4]

As for the present, I find the broad language of Rule 15(a) permits a party to amend their complaint once, as a matter of course, before a responsive pleading is filed. [5] Upon consideration of Stoppel v. Henry, [6] a Superior Court Case directly analyzing this procedural matter, I agree with the conclusion a motion to dismiss is not a responsive pleading.[7] This principle is further bolstered by how parallel Federal Rules of Civil Procedure[8] have been interpreted.[9]

Consequently, the only remaining claim this Court must consider is whether the Defendant engaged in unemployment discrimination, Count I.[10] This cause of action turns on whether state merit rules are preempted.[11] As such, Count I presents a question of law.[12]

Although, the motion to dismiss is moot and Defendant must file an answer, Defendant may elect to pursue a judgment on the pleadings.[13] The standard for a motion for judgment on the pleadings is almost identical to the standard for a motion to dismiss.[14] If that course is chosen, the parties should supplement their earlier memoranda.

Lastly, in addition to the cases cited more information is required on the preemption argument. I would suggest the parties confer and submit a stipulated schedule to that end. Thank you.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Very truly yours,

Hon. Richard F. Stokes


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