Submitted: November 21, 2016
Below-Superior Court of the State of Delaware C.A. No.
VALIHURA, VAUGHN, and SEITZ, Justices.
T. Vaughn, Jr. Justice.
1st day of February 2017, upon consideration of
the parties' briefs, the record on appeal, the notice to
show cause, and the response thereto,  it appears to the
Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board ("the Board")
filed this appeal from the Superior Court's March 29,
2016 opinion reversing the Board's judgment, which
refused to consider an untimely appeal filed by Tammy R.
Williams. After careful consideration, we hold that the Board
did not abuse its discretion in rejecting Williams'
untimely appeal. Accordingly, the judgment of the Superior
Court shall be reversed.
record reflects that Williams was employed by Brandywine
Counseling & Community Services, Inc. ("the
Employer") as the sole counselor to women in a
residential drug and mental health treatment program. In
December 2014, Williams requested a leave of absence under
the Family and Medical Leave Act to care for her mother in
New York. After her FMLA leave period expired in March, the
Employer contacted Williams about her return to work.
Williams informed the Employer that she was not available to
return to work because her mother still needed care.
Williams' last official day with the Employer was April
27, 2015, although she filed a claim for unemployment
benefits on April 21, 2015.
May 12, 2015, a claims deputy concluded that Williams was
entitled to unemployment benefits because the Employer had
discharged Williams without just cause. The Employer appealed
the claims deputy's decision. An appeals referee held a
hearing on June 15, 2015. At that hearing, Williams testified
that, although she was still caring for her mother, she was
actively seeking employment and was available to work four or
five days a week. Williams further testified, however, that
she had not reapplied for a job at Brandywine Counseling.
a written decision dated June 17, 2015, the appeals referee
overturned the claims deputy's decision. The appeals
referee found that the evidence supported a finding that
Williams had voluntarily left her position with the Employer
and that she was not entitled to benefits because her reasons
for leaving were not attributable to her work. The appeals
referee's written decision informed Williams that the
last day to file a further appeal to the Board was June 27,
2015. The decision was mailed to Williams at her home
address, which the appeals referee had verified with Williams
at the start of the hearing.
July 2, 2015, Williams appeared in person at the Department
of Labor to file her appeal from the referee's decision.
At a review hearing held on July 8, 2015, the Board concluded
that Williams' notice of appeal was not filed in a timely
manner and that Williams' untimely filing was not caused
by any error on the part of the Department of Labor. The
Board declined to hear Williams' untimely appeal and thus
affirmed the referee's decision denying benefits.
Williams filed an appeal of the Board's decision to the
Williams' opening brief in the Superior Court did not
raise any issue challenging the Board's conclusion that
her appeal was untimely. Instead, she appeared to take issue
with the appeals referee's conclusion that she
voluntarily quit. In reviewing Williams' appeal, the
Superior Court summarized the issues presented as follows:
The first issue concerns the merits of the underlying case.
The second issue concerns time computation when determining
the date by which a claimant must file an appeal from a
Referee's decision with the Board. The third issue
concerns the discretion given the Board to hear a case on the
merits under 19 Del. C. § 3320.
the Superior Court held that the appeals referee erred in
concluding that Williams was not entitled to unemployment
benefits, that the Board erred in computing the time that
Williams had to file an appeal, and that, even though
Williams' appeal was untimely under the trial court's
computation method, the Board abused its discretion in
refusing to hear Williams' appeal. The Board now appeals
the Superior Court's judgment.
its opening brief on appeal, the Board argues that the
Superior Court erred in considering the merits of
Williams' claim for benefits because the Board did not
make any findings of fact or conclusions of law pertaining to
her claim. The Board also challenges the Superior Court's
calculation of the ten-day time period in which Williams was
required to file her appeal to the Board. Finally, the Board
contends that the ...