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Cabrera v. Delaware Rug Company

Superior Court of Delaware

November 15, 2018

JEFFREY CABRERA, Appellant,
v.
DELAWARE RUG COMPANY and THE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPEAL BOARD Appellees.

          Date Submitted: September 4, 2017

         Upon Consideration of Appellant's Appeal of the Decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board, AFFIRMED.

          Jeffrey Cabrera, Bear, DE. Pro Se Appellant.

          Daniel C. Mulvaney, Esquire, Wilmington, DE. Attorney for Appellee Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board.

          ORDER

          VIVIAN L. MEDINILLA JUDGE

          INTRODUCTION

         This is an appeal from the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board ("Board"). Appellant Jeffrey Cabrera ("Employee") untimely appeals from the Board's February 20, 2018 decision that denied to further review the application because it was not timely filed, and therefore affirmed the Appeals Referee's decision.[1] Upon consideration of the facts, arguments and evidence set by the parties; statutory and decisional law; and the entire record in this case, [2] the Court hereby finds as follows:

         1. Employee was employed at Delaware Rug Company ("Employer") from July 30, 2017 until November 8, 3017.[3] Employee was terminated from his employment for reasons including tardiness, insubordination towards his boss, and smoking in company trucks in violation of Employer's policy.[4]

          2. Employee filed a claim for unemployment benefits with the Division of Unemployment Insurance on November 5, 2017.[5] On November 21, 2017, a Claims Deputy found that Employee was discharged from his employment without just cause in connection with his work, and was not disqualified from the receipt of unemployment insurance benefits under 19 Del. C. § 3314(2).[6]

         3. On November 30, 2017, Employer timely filed an appeal of the Claims Deputy's Decision to an Appeals Referee.[7] A hearing de novo was held on December 27, 2017, where the Appeals Referee heard testimony from Employee, Employer's Representative Shailah Alvaraz, and Employer's witness Nicholas Michael.[8] At the hearing, Employer submitted into evidence eleven documents titled "Employee Grievance Reports," which were signed by Mr. Michael.[9] The Appeals Referee reversed the Claims Deputy's decision, and held that Employee was discharged for just cause and was disqualified from receiving benefits pursuant to 19 Del. C. § 3314(2).[10] The Appeals Referee's decision was mailed on December 29, 2017 and the last day to file an appeal was January 8, 2018.[11]

         4. On January 23, 2018, Employee untimely filed an appeal to the Board.[12]Employee noted that he "was late to make the appeal on the referee's decision because on October 22nd [his] personal [sic] owned vehicle was vandalized with a totel [sic] of 6 gun shots which made it very difficult for [him] to have transportation to come in to appeal."[13]

         5. On February 20, 2018, the Board denied Employee's application to further review the matter, and affirmed the Appeals Referee's decision.[14] The Board held that the Appeals Referee's decision was final and binding.[15] In its decision, the Board details that Employee's appeal was untimely under 19 Del. C. § 3318(c) which states that a referee's decision is final within 10 days unless an appeal to the Board is filed under 19 Del. C. § 3320.[16] The Board explained that it may accept an appeal sua sponte in cases of severe circumstances.[17] The Board declined to exercise its discretion to hear Employee's appeal, finding there was "no evidence of Departmental error that prevented the Claimant from filing a timely appeal of the Referee's Decision, nor is there evidence of severe circumstances to justify the exercise."[18] The Board did not accept Employee's transportation issues as a sufficient reason to justify further review.[19] The Board also found that Employee was given notice and opportunity to be heard which satisfied the due process requirements.[20]

         6. The Board's decision was mailed on February 20, 2018 and it became final on March 2, 2018.[21] Employee filed this appeal on April 10, 2018.[22] Having considered all submissions, the matter is now ripe for review.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         7. On appeal from the Board, the court will uphold the Board's determination absent an abuse of discretion.[23] The "court must determine whether the findings and conclusions of the Board are free from legal error" and whether they are "supported by substantial evidence in the record."[24] Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as ...


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