Jenkins v. State, Dept. of Health and Rehabilitative Services, No. 90-1710

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtJOANOS
Citation618 So.2d 749
Parties18 Fla. L. Weekly D1097 Sonia E. JENKINS, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 90-1710
Decision Date27 April 1993

Page 749

618 So.2d 749
18 Fla. L. Weekly D1097
Sonia E. JENKINS, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Florida, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND REHABILITATIVE
SERVICES, Appellee.
No. 90-1710.
District Court of Appeal of Florida,
First District.
April 27, 1993.

Sonia E. Jenkins, pro se.

James A. Sawyer, Jr., Dist. Legal Counsel, Dept. of Health and Rehabilitative Services, Orlando, for appellee.

Jerry G. Traynham of Patterson and Traynham, Tallahassee, for amicus Florida Public Employees Council 79, American Federation of State, County and Mun. Employees.

Jerry Cheatham, Deputy General Counsel, Public Employees Relations, Com'n, for amicus Public Employees Relations Com'n.

EN BANC
ON MOTION FOR REHEARING

JOANOS, Chief Judge.

The Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS) has filed a motion for rehearing, asserting as grounds therefor that the Department of Administration (DOA) has jurisdiction to hear administrative appeals on abandonment. In support of its position, HRS urges that the authority of DOA to determine a state employee's separation from career service under abandonment was upheld by the Florida Supreme Court in Hadley v. Department of Administration, 411 So.2d 184 (Fla.1982), and by this court in Cook v. Division of Personnel, Department of Administration, 356 So.2d 356 (Fla. 1st DCA 1978).

On our own motion we determined to consider this matter en banc. We requested additional briefing from the parties and accepted amicus curiae briefs from the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). DOA declined our invitation to file a brief. We vacate our previous opinion and substitute this opinion in its place. On that basis we deny HRS's motion for rehearing. We certify the question presented by this appeal to the Florida Supreme Court, as a question of great public importance. See Art. V, Sec. 3(b)(4), Fla. Const. (1980); Fla.R.App.P. 9.030(a)(2)(A)(v).

Appellant seeks review of an order of DOA determining that appellant abandoned her career service position with HRS. We reverse.

On August 21, 1989, appellant was notified by certified mail that she had been separated from state service for abandonment of her position, based on her failure to report to work on August 16, 17, and 18, 1989, without notification to her supervisor that she would be absent. Appellant's letter dated August 24, 1989, sought review of the agency decision. The letter states, among other things, that on Monday, August 14, 1989, appellant advised her supervisor of her father's death, and that she did not know when she would be back in the office. The letter indicates that the supervisor was cognizant that appellant's father had been murdered, he indicated acquiescence in her need to be away from work, and he told her to let him know if she needed anything.

The hearing officer found that appellant appeared in the office on Monday morning, August 14, 1989, visibly shaken, and informed her supervisor that her father had been murdered during the weekend. The recommended order indicates that appellant's supervisor responded that he had seen a report of the murder and offered his assistance, if needed. The order states that appellant did not request leave, but simply departed from the office. When appellant failed to return to work on Wednesday, the supervisor sent a messenger to her home to request that appellant call the office. Since appellant was not at home, a note was left on her door. The hearing officer determined that other staff persons also attempted to reach appellant, and that the supervisor approved the normal two days administrative leave due to death, but did not approve the following three days of leave. When appellant returned to the office on Tuesday morning, August 22, 1989, she received a copy of the letter dated August 21, 1989, informing her that she had been separated from state service.

As conclusions of law, the hearing officer found that HRS proved the predicate fact that appellant was absent from work from August 16-18 without authorization, and proved the ultimate fact that appellant abandoned her job during this period of time. The recommended order states that appellant presented no testimony that it was not her intention to abandon her job, and "offered no specific explanation for her failure to contact her supervisor other than the tragic loss of her father. Specifically, she did not testify that her emotional condition prevented her from dealing with such matters by telephone during this three-day period." Finding that appellant failed to rebut the predicate and ultimate facts established by HRS, the hearing officer recommended entry of a final order finding that appellant abandoned her career service employment with the state. DOA's final order adopts the hearing officer's findings of fact and conclusions of law, sustaining the HRS action.

Appellant's dismissal was effected pursuant to Florida Administrative Code Rule 22A-7.010, dealing with separations from career service. Subsection (2) Abandonment of Position, provides in part:

(a) An employee who is absent without authorized leave of absence for 3 consecutive workdays shall be deemed to have abandoned the position and to have resigned from the career service. An employee who has career service status and separates under such circumstances shall not have the right of appeal to the Public Employees Relations Commission; however, any such employee shall have the right to petition the department for a review of the facts in the case and a ruling as to whether the circumstances constitute abandonment of position.

Subparagraph (2)(b) deals with the manner of notice, and concludes with the statement: "The decision of the department on such a petition shall be final and binding on both the employee and the employing agency."

The question is whether DOA has authority to promulgate such a sweeping presumption and to divest PERC of jurisdiction which PERC is granted by statute. Absent specific statutory authority, an agency is not authorized to adopt and apply a rule creating a conclusive evidentiary presumption. See McDonald v. Department of Professional Regulation, Board of Pilot Commissioners, 582 So.2d 660, 664 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991); Tomlinson v. State, Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, 558 So.2d 62 (Fla. 2d DCA 1990).

The abandonment/dismissal conundrum has been before this court and the other courts of Florida numerous times. In Board of Regents v. Heuer, 332 So.2d 626 (Fla. 1st DCA 1976), Heuer, a University of Florida employee contested the University's determination that she had abandoned her position. The...

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6 practice notes
  • Childers v. State, No. 1D03-2154.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 28 juni 2006
    ...publication and withdrawal of panel decision), approved by 688 So.2d 319 (Fla.1997); Jenkins v. State, Dep't of Health & Rehab. Servs., 618 So.2d 749 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993) (en banc decision on rehearing vacating and superseding published panel decision). See also S. States Utils. v. Fla. Pub.......
  • Childers v. State, No. 1D03-2154.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 28 juni 2006
    ...publication and withdrawal of panel decision), approved by 688 So.2d 319 (Fla.1997); Jenkins v. State, Dep't of Health & Rehab. Servs., 618 So.2d 749 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993) (en banc decision on rehearing vacating and superseding published panel decision). See also S. States Utils. v. Fla. Pub.......
  • FLORIDA PUBLIC SERV. v. FLORIDA WATERWORKS, No. 98-1280.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 10 mei 1999
    ...agency seeking to foreclose a meaningful evidentiary showing altogether. See Jenkins v. State, Dep't of Health and Rehabilitative Servs., 618 So.2d 749, 751 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993); McDonald v. Department of Prof'l Regulation, Bd. of Pilot Comm'rs, 582 So.2d 660, 664 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991). The pr......
  • Springfield v. Department of Environmental Protection, No. 93-2371
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 29 december 1994
    ...unable to find any authority for the adoption of rule 22A-7.010(2)(a). See Jenkins v. Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, 618 So.2d 749 (Fla. 1st DCA), rev. dismissed, 623 So.2d 493 (Fla.1993); Page 805 Tomlinson v. Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, 558 So.2d 6......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Childers v. State, No. 1D03-2154.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 28 juni 2006
    ...publication and withdrawal of panel decision), approved by 688 So.2d 319 (Fla.1997); Jenkins v. State, Dep't of Health & Rehab. Servs., 618 So.2d 749 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993) (en banc decision on rehearing vacating and superseding published panel decision). See also S. States Utils. v. Fla. Pub.......
  • Childers v. State, No. 1D03-2154.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 28 juni 2006
    ...publication and withdrawal of panel decision), approved by 688 So.2d 319 (Fla.1997); Jenkins v. State, Dep't of Health & Rehab. Servs., 618 So.2d 749 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993) (en banc decision on rehearing vacating and superseding published panel decision). See also S. States Utils. v. Fla. Pub.......
  • FLORIDA PUBLIC SERV. v. FLORIDA WATERWORKS, No. 98-1280.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 10 mei 1999
    ...agency seeking to foreclose a meaningful evidentiary showing altogether. See Jenkins v. State, Dep't of Health and Rehabilitative Servs., 618 So.2d 749, 751 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993); McDonald v. Department of Prof'l Regulation, Bd. of Pilot Comm'rs, 582 So.2d 660, 664 (Fla. 1st DCA 1991). The pr......
  • Springfield v. Department of Environmental Protection, No. 93-2371
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 29 december 1994
    ...unable to find any authority for the adoption of rule 22A-7.010(2)(a). See Jenkins v. Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, 618 So.2d 749 (Fla. 1st DCA), rev. dismissed, 623 So.2d 493 (Fla.1993); Page 805 Tomlinson v. Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, 558 So.2d 6......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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