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Mechler v. Board of Review

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


March 13, 2008

KATHLEEN M. MECHLER, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, AND U.S. POSTAL SERVICE, RESPONDENTS.

On appeal from a final decision of the Board of Review, Docket No. 139,754.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted February 25, 2008

Before Judges Stern and A.A. Rodríguez.

Claimant, a rural mail delivery postal worker with the United States Postal Service, appeals from a determination of the Board of Review upholding, on the record made, the determination of the Appeal Tribunal denying her claim for unemployment benefits for having left work "voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work."

Appellant argues:

CLAIMANT'S LEAVING HER JOB WITH EMPLOYER BECAUSE OF STRESS INDUCED MEDICAL PROBLEMS CAUSED BY THE LONG WORK HOURS OF THIS PARTICULAR ROUTE AND HARASSMENT BY [THE] POSTMASTER IN NOT ALLOWING A ROUTE ADJUSTMENT CONSTITUTES GOOD CAUSE ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE WORK AND, THEREFORE, SHE SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISQUALIFIED FOR BENEFITS.

Appellant claims that the postmaster retaliated against her for her complaints and criticisms against him for not reducing her work load in light of her work-related stress. She acknowledges seeking professional help and the assistance of Postal Service Employee Assistance Program for "mental anguish," advised the Postmaster that "she was seeking help for stress for working so many hours," and resigned in November 2006 before resolution of her request for a route adjustment.

The Appeal Tribunal found that her route was reduced from forty-five to forty hours a week, that she was being "treated for psychiatric disorders which are ongoing," that her doctors recommended she take a leave of absence but she nevertheless "chose to resign," and did so "rather than continue with the grievance procedures." As a result, the Appeal Tribunal concluded she had no "good cause" to leave as opposed to "continuing with the grievance procedure" and also noted that "no medical documentation" was presented to her employer together with the request. On the record made, we cannot disturb the Board of Review's conclusion that claimant's failure to await the results of the grievance procedure, and not seeking a leave of absence in the interim if she continued to have mental health problems,*fn1 makes her resignation a "voluntary quit." Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210-11 (1997); Morgan v. Bd. of Review, 77 N.J. Super. 209, 213 (App. Div. 1962). We add only the following.

In his February 27, 2007, letter submitted to the Appeal Tribunal, the licensed social worker who was counseling claimant found that she was suffering from a severe general anxiety disorder, and perhaps "from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, in which case the trauma may have been associated with the job, which was also the cue for her panic attacks." He noted that "the patient appeared to benefit from . . . medications . . . and her panic attacks have subsided for the most part," although her "anxiety from the prolonged exposure to extreme stress" had not. He did not say that claimant could not conduct the work at the time of resignation, or could not have been further treated by medication without resigning.

The final administrative determination is affirmed.


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