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Garruto v. Board of Review

January 4, 2008

VITA GARRUTO, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND DOMINION ENTERPRISES/ VINCENT CHIAPPONE, RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from a Final Decision of the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 134,807.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 19, 2007

Before Judges Lisa and Lihotz.

Appellant Vita Garruto appeals from a final decision by the Board of Review (the Board), Department of Labor, which affirmed a determination by an Appeal Tribunal (Tribunal) that she was disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation benefits because she left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work. N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a). We affirm.

Garruto was employed as the office manager of Dominion Enterprises, formerly known as Trader Publications (Dominion). Dominion publishes the "Employment Guide" and operates an internet web page. Vincent Chiappone is a district manager for Dominion and was Garruto's supervisor.

Chiappone was responsible for sales advertising. Customers could purchase advertisements in the classified section of a website or the newspaper that promotes job fairs. Garruto would "book" the sales orders received by entering the information specified in the customer's contract into the company's computer system.

Dominion was subject to an internal audit by its accountants in July 2006. The audit was to assure Dominion was following "best practices."

Garruto testified she voluntarily terminated her employment on November 3, 2006, "[b]ecause I was being blamed for illegally obtaining contracts[,] which I had no choice but to do." She explained that, on a daily basis, she was told by Chiappone to "change" the contracts previously executed by the customer, presumably in an effort to boost the sales volume of certain advertising products. Chiappone allegedly told Garruto that he intended to explain any discrepancies to the auditors by stating she prepared the contracts incorrectly.

Also, Garruto testified that Chiappone was selling the advertising for less than he should. She related the example: "if an ad was one thousand dollars and we could sell it for six hundred[,] we'll go ahead and sell it for six hundred every single contract." After the audit, Garruto assumed the office would be "missing money" and she would be blamed.

Garruto acknowledged that she did not challenge Chiappone or object to his instructions. Also, she did not tell any other supervisor or the corporate office that she believed Chiappone's actions were inappropriate. Also, she admitted that she had "joked" that her pay was lower than "New York standards." Finally, Garruto stated that she intended to leave her employment without offering explanation to Chiappone.

Chiappone testified that Garruto resigned for personal reasons; specifically, she was dissatisfied with her pay. She was being paid $40,000 per year. A scheduled increase would increase her pay to the range of $45,000 to $47,500 per year.

However, she requested pay between $55,000 and $60,000. Chiappone asked her to continue working while she looked for alternative employment because he "valued [her] as an employee."

Chiappone testified that the only time he asked Garruto to change a contract was to be certain his signature appeared if he had forgotten to do so. Also, Chiappone explained that after receiving an oral report, he was not advised of any significant infractions identified by the auditors. On the issue of allocating funds paid by customers, Chiappone discussed a process called "bundling." For example, if the fee charged was $500 for job fair advertising, a portion of the ...


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