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Seaford Internal Medicine, LLC v. Sandoval

Superior Court of Delaware

July 15, 2019

SEAFORD INTERNAL MEDICINE, LLC, Appellant,
v.
MARIA SANDOVAL and UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPEAL BOARD, Appellees.

          Submitted: June 26, 2019

         Upon Appellant Seaford Internal Medicine, LLC's Appeal Granted

          Jennifer G. Brady, Esquire, Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP, Hercules Plaza -Sixth Floor, Attorney for Appellant.

          Daniel C. Mulveny, Esquire, State of Delaware Department of Justice, Carvel State Office Building, Attorney for Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board

          Ms. Maria Sandoval, Pro Se,

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          KARSNITZ, J.

          In this appeal from a decision of the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board ("the Board") the dispositive issue is what is good cause justifying an employee's voluntarily leaving her job, but still retaining the right to unemployment benefits. Appellee, Maria Sandoval quit her job because she was not given the raise she claimed was promised her at her ten year anniversary. The Board found Ms. Sandoval's complaints legitimate, and ample evidence in the record supports that finding. I am sympathetic to Ms. Sandoval's circumstance. However, the controlling Delaware Supreme Court precedent requires that the reason for voluntarily leaving employment must be such that"... no reasonably prudent employee would have remained employed;"[1] to constitute good cause, and allowing the employee to remain eligible for unemployment compensation. Using that high standard, and with some reluctance I reverse the decision of the Board.

         FACTS

         Ms. Sandoval was employed by Seaford Internal Medicine, LLC ("Seaford Medicine") or a related entity from March 2008 until she voluntarily left in October of 2018. The essence of her dispute with her employer was her contention that it had promised her an all expenses paid for trip and $1.00 per hour raise on her tenth year work anniversary. The parties had no written agreement, and the employer disputed Ms. Sandoval's claims.

         Not surprising over ten years things change. According to the employer it had financial difficulties which prevented it from giving Ms. Sandoval the raise she asked for and which she believed she had been promised. By the ten year anniversary Ms. Sandoval had received other raises and was earning $17.00 per hour.

         Seaford Medicine's managing partner, Jona Gorra, M.D. tried to resolve the issues, eventually paying $3, 000.00 to Sandoval in lieu of a trip, and offering a $.25 per hour raise. The raise was effective in Sandoval's paycheck for the week of September 19, 2018. Shortly after receiving the check Sandoval resigned.

         In November, 2018 a Claims Deputy denied Sandoval's claim for unemployment benefits, finding she voluntarily resigned without good cause. In January, 2019 an Appeals Referee reversed the decision, finding that a substantial reduction in compensation from the original agreement of hire had occurred. In March, 2019 a majority of the Board concluded that Seaford Medicine made a substantial deviation from the terms of employment giving Sandoval "good cause to quit".[2]

         A PROCEDURAL QUESTION

         The Board mailed its decision to the parties on March 21, 2019. 19 Del. C. §3322(a) dictates that the decision would be final March 31, 2019 (a Sunday). 19 Del. C. §3323(a) gives parties 10 days to appeal a Board decision. The appeal was filed by Seaford Medicine on April 11, 2019. I have received as part of this case file a letter from an attorney for the Board in which he contends the appeal is untimely, having been filed 11 days from March 31.[3]

         In response Seaford Medicine argues that Superior Court Civil Rule 6(a) controls and because the appeal period is less than 11 days, intervening weekends and holidays are not to be counted in calculating the 10 day period. Counting to 10 should not be difficult. On the other hand Rule 6(a) recognizes that when short periods of time are allotted intervening periods where traditionally government agencies, and people in general, are not working justifies not counting the days of leisure. Superior Court Civil Rule 6(a) reads in full:

"Computation. In computing any period of time prescribed or allowed by these Rules, by order of court, or by statute, the day of the act, event or default after which the designated period of time begins to run shall not be included. The last day of the period so computed shall be included, unless it is a Saturday or Sunday, or other legal holiday, or other day of which the office of the Prothonotary is closed, in which the office of the Prothonotary is open. When the period of time prescribed or allowed is less than 11 days, intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and other legal holidays shall be excluded in the computation. As used in this rule, ...

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