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Barker Enterprises, Inc. v. Delaware Department of Labor

Superior Court of Delaware, Kent

April 22, 2015

BARKER ENTERPRISES, INC. dba AMERICAN THERAPY & REHABILITATION, Appellant,
v.
DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, DIVISION OF UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPEALS BOARD, Appellee.

Submitted: February 3, 2015

Upon an Appeal from the Decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.

Frances A. Barker, Barker Enterprises, Inc., pro se.

Victoria W. Counihan, Esquire, Department of Justice, Wilmington, Delaware; attorney for Delaware Division of Unemployment Insurance.

ORDER

WILLIAM L. WITHAM, JR., RESIDENT JUDGE.

Before the Court is the pro se appeal of Appellant Barker Enterprises, Inc. DBA American Therapy & Rehabilitation (hereinafter "Appellant") from the decision of the Division of Unemployment Insurance (hereinafter "the Division") denying Appellant's appeal pursuant to 19 Del. C. § 3317(c). The Court has reviewed the record in this matter and the parties' submissions. For the following reasons, the Division's decision is AFFIRMED.

BACKGROUND

On January 5, 2014, Claimant filed for benefits. A Form UC-119 is filled out by an employer to describe the reason for an employee's separation who has filed a claim for unemployment benefits.[1] This was completed by the Appellant and sent back to the Division. The Appellant wrote that the reason for separation was that Claimant, Susan Comegy (hereinafter "Claimant"), "was hired on 3/6/13 on a 90 day probation period. After 6 weeks she could do the job she was hired for after consistent training[...]"[2] After approximately three months, Appellant realized its mistake in writing that the Claimant could fulfill her job requirements, as opposed to stating that she could not. Appellant/Employer submitted a letter to the Division of Unemployment, bringing attention to the error and writing that it was a mistake.

The Appellant also testified that Claimant was in fact not capable of performing her job and that the form incorrectly left out the word "not."

On July 7, 2014, the Appeals Referee with the Delaware Department of Labor issued its decision informing Appellant that its account should be charged for benefit wages because no disqualifying reason was given as to why the Claimant could no longer work for Appellant. Appellant was charged in the amount of $2, 341.60. This total is based on the fourth quarter 2012 through the third quarter 2013. The Appeals Referee issued its decision after the Claims Deputy determined that the Employer's merit rating account was properly charged for benefit wages on April 24, 2014 thereby affirming the Claims Deputy's determination.

The Department sent a notice to Appellant stating that it had reviewed the wages charged to the account and believed that the benefit wages were in fact properly charged.[3] The Appeals Referee stated that because the form indicated that the Claimant was capable of doing her job, and that because the Division relied upon Appellant's information that was initially provided, Appellant should pay wage benefits. The Referee's decision stated that this reliance was reasonable and thus the merit rating account was properly charged. The Appellant timely appealed to this Court.[4]

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In reviewing a benefit wage charge determination, the Court may determine only whether the ruling is supported by substantial evidence and free from error of law.[5] "The Court reviews questions of law de novo to determine 'whether the Board erred in formulating or applying legal precepts.'"[6] There is no abuse of discretion unless the Board based its procedural decision "on clearly unreasonable or capricious grounds" or the Board "exceeds the bounds of reason in view of the circumstances and had ignored recognized rules of law or practices so as to produce ...


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