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Ocean Limo Transportation, LLC v. Grant

Superior Court of Delaware

May 3, 2017

OCEAN LIMO TRANSPORTATION, LLC Appellant,
v.
SHEILA GRANT and THE DIVISION OF UNEMPLYMENT INSURANCE APPEALS BOARD, Appellee

          Submitted: March 28, 2017

         On Appeal from the Decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board-Affirmed.

          Anthony N. Delcollo, Esq., Cooch & Taylor, P.A., Attorney for Appellant.

          Carla A. K. Jarosz, Esq., Deputy Attorney General, Attorney for Appellee, Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board.

          Victoria W. Counihan, Esq., Deputy Attorney General, Attorney for Appellee, Delaware Department of Labor.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STOKES, J.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Ocean Limo Transportation, LLC ("Ocean Limo") has appealed the decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board ("UIAB" or "Board") to grant unemployment benefits to Sheila Grant ("Grant"). For the reasons explained below, the decision is AFFIRMED.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Beginning on January 29, 2015, Ocean Limo employed Grant to drive Medicaid recipients to and from medical appointments. On January 18, 2016, her employment was terminated after a routine drug screening conducted on January 15, 2016 returned a positive result.[1] Ocean Limo's employee policy provides that an employee "...agrees to provide Ocean Limo Transportation, LLC with a current drivers' license, social security card, passport (if applicable), criminal record, Federal and State background check, motor vehicle driving record and evidence of negative drug screens. Contractor [employee] agrees to submit to toxicology (drug) screens randomly within two hours of request..."[2]

         After being discharged, Grant sought unemployment benefits. A former employee is not allowed to recover unemployment benefits if he or she has been terminated for cause.[3] A UIAB Appeals Referee addressed the question of whether Ocean Limo had sufficient just cause to terminate Grant. On April 29, 2016, the Appeals Referee found that Ocean Limo had not shown by a preponderance of the evidence that Grant was discharged for cause because sufficient evidence relating to sample testing procedures and the chain of custody was not introduced. Since Ocean Limo could not lay the proper foundation for the introduction of the drug test results, the results of the test were considered hearsay evidence. The Appeals Referee pointed out that Delaware courts have held that administrative tribunals may not base their decision solely on hearsay evidence.[4] Therefore, Grant was allowed to receive unemployment benefits.

         Ocean Limo appealed the Referee's decision to the UIAB. At the June 15, 2016 UIAB hearing, Ocean Limo was again unable to lay the proper foundation to introduce the drug test results. Therefore, on July 6, 2016, the Board found, for the same reasons as the Referee, that Grant had been discharged without cause and could receive unemployment benefits. The Board's decision became final on July 16, 2016. Ocean Limo filed a Notice of Appeal in this Court on July 26, 2016, within the time limit to appeal.

         III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         When this Court reviews a procedural decision of the UIAB, the Court must consider whether the Board abused its discretion in rendering its decision.[5] A procedural decision by an administrative agency is not an abuse of discretion "unless it is based on clearly unreasonable or capricious grounds" or the Board decision "exceeds the bounds of reason in view of the circumstances and ignored recognized rules of law or practice so as to produce injustice."[6] Absent an abuse ...


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