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Alcide v. Mountaire Farms of DE Inc.

Superior Court of Delaware, Sussex

June 27, 2018

Alcide
v.
Mountaire Farms of DE, Inc.

          Date Submitted: April 17, 2018

          On Appeal from the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board:

          Alita Joseph Alcide

          Carla A.K. Jarosz, Esquire

         Dear Ms. Alcide and Counsel, Alita Alcide appeals the decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board ("the Board") to affirm the Appeals Referee's decision that found Ms. Alcide had failed to file a timely appeal from her denial of benefits. The Appeals Referee determined that, because this failure was not due to administrative error on the part of the Department of Labor, the Claims Deputy's decision was final and binding. The Board's decision is affirmed for the reasons stated below.

         Nature and Stage of the Proceedings

         Ms. Alcide worked for Mountaire Farms of DE, Inc. ("Employer") for several years until her termination in September of 2017. Ms. Alcide filed for unemployment insurance benefits on September 10, 2017. A Claims Deputy determined Ms. Alcide had been fired for just cause in connection with her employment. Specifically, the Claims Deputy found Ms. Alcide was terminated for attendance/tardiness. Ms. Alcide had received prior warnings regarding her attendance. According to Employer's Attendance Policy, eight instances are grounds for termination. Ms. Alcide received her eighth absence on September 8, 2017, when she failed to appear as scheduled.

         The Claims Deputy's decision was mailed on October 5, 2017, and stated that the determination became final if an appeal was not filed by October 15, 2017. Ms. Alcide appeared in person at the Department of Labor to appeal the decision on October 23, 2017.

         An Appeals Referee held a hearing on October 13, 2017, on the sole issue of the timeliness of Ms. Alcide's appeal. The Appeals Referee mailed a written decision on November 16, 2017. By way of that decision, the Appeals Referee held that the evidence presented established that the Claims Deputy's decision was properly mailed to Ms. Alcide at her address of record.

         Ms. Alcide appealed to the Board. The Board considered the matter on its review calendar and decided the appeal on the previously submitted evidence. The Board affirmed the Appeals Referee's decision by way of written decision mailed on December 22, 2017. Ms. Alcide filed a timely appeal with this Court on December 29, 2017.

         Discussion

         When reviewing a decision of the Board, this Court must determine whether the Board's findings and conclusions of law are free from legal error and are supported by substantial evidence in the record.[1] "Substantial evidence" is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion."[2] The Court's review is limited: "It is not the appellate court's role to weigh the evidence, determine credibility questions or make its own factual findings, but merely to decide if the evidence is legally adequate to support the agency's factual findings."[3]

         Section 3314 of Title 19 of the Delaware Code provides, in pertinent part, that one shall be disqualified for unemployment benefits if she has been "discharged from [her] work for just cause in connection with [her] work."[4] "Generally, the term 'just cause' refers to a wilful or wanton act in violation of either the employer's interest, or of the employee's duties, or of the employee's expected standard of conduct."[5] Violation of a reasonable company policy may constitute just cause for termination, provided the employee is aware of the policy and the fact that the violation thereof may result in the employee's termination.[6]

         The Claims Deputy determined that Ms. Alcide was discharged because she had ...


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