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Aranguren v. Board of Review

November 5, 2009


On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket Nos. 158,040 and 120,955.

Per curiam.


Submitted September 21, 2009

Before Judges Baxter and Alvarez.

William F. Aranguren, a substitute school teacher at the Ocean County Vocational Technical School, appeals the denial of unemployment benefits he claimed for the summers of 2006 and 2007. Because Aranguren's appeals involve virtually identical facts and questions of law, we consolidate for purposes of our decision and affirm both rulings by the Board.

Aranguren initially filed a claim for unemployment benefits on or about July 2, 2006, his last day of work as a substitute in the 2005-2006 school term. The Deputy Director of the Division of Unemployment and Disability Insurance (Director) found him ineligible on July 31, 2006, because it was anticipated that he would be returning to work as a substitute in the fall of 2006. Aranguren appealed, and on September 6, 2006, the Appeal Tribunal affirmed the denial for the same reason, namely, that N.J.S.A. 43:21-4(g)(2) makes instructional employees of an educational institution who have "a reasonable assurance" of reemployment the following term ineligible for benefits. Attached to the Appeal Tribunal's letter was a form notice advising appellant in accord with N.J.S.A. 43:21-6(c), that the decision "become[s] final, unless, within ten (10) days of the date of mailing... a written appeal is filed with the Board of Review, Department of Labor." Aranguren did not appeal the September 6, 2006 decision until June 27, 2008, nearly two years later. On September 18, 2008, the Board dismissed the appeal as untimely pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:21-6(c).

After the 2006-2007 school year, Aranguren filed a second claim for benefits effective July 1, 2007. The Director again denied benefits on the grounds that the claimant was an instructional employee of an educational institution who had a reasonable assurance of employment when the school year recommenced. Aranguren appealed that decision to the Appeal Tribunal on August 6, 2007. The decision was affirmed on August 29, 2007, after a hearing. On May 27, 2008, Aranguren appealed to the Board of Review, which determined that there was good cause to entertain the appeal out of time. On July 25, 2008, the Board of Review affirmed the denial of benefits by the Appeal Tribunal. These appeals followed.

Aranguren testified at the August 28, 2007 Appeal Tribunal hearing that he worked through the school term until June as a per diem substitute in both 2006 and 2007. He was on the list of substitute teachers for the fall 2007 term and knew he would be recalled. In fact, he hoped to obtain a permanent teaching position and viewed his employment as a substitute as advancing that ultimate goal.

New Jersey participates in the cooperative unemployment compensation network between the federal government and individual states. See Special Care of N.J., Inc. v. Bd. of Review, 327 N.J. Super. 197, 207-08 (App. Div. 2000). In that capacity, it has adopted the requirements of Title IX of the Federal Social Security Act (FUTA), 26 U.S.C. § 3301 et seq. Ibid. (citations omitted). The Act imposes federal excise taxes upon private employers, whose contributions are paid to the Secretary of Treasury for inclusion in a federal unemployment trust fund. 26 U.S.C. § 3301. Those monies are released to the states for payment of unemployment compensation benefits in order to assist in the administration of state unemployment compensation programs. See 26 U.S.C. § 3302. In order to receive these benefits, a state must adopt federal criteria governing eligibility for unemployment benefits as defined by Congress. Special Care of N.J., Inc., supra, 327 N.J. Super. at 207.

FUTA requires each state to deny unemployment benefits claimed for recesses between successive academic terms where the claimant has a "reasonable assurance" of being called back upon the recommencement of the academic term. 26 U.S.C. § 3304(a)(6)(A)(i). N.J.S.A. 43:21-4(g)(2) incorporates this federal provision into state law.

Aranguren disputes neither the nature of his employment nor that he had a reasonable assurance of being rehired for the following academic year, as he was on the substitute teacher list. Aranguren's only contention on appeal is that he claims he did not appeal the Appeal Tribunal decisions of September 6, 2006, or August 29, 2007, to the Board of Review, and that therefore the decisions "should be vacated as a matter of law." The assertions are not borne out by the record. Aranguren did appeal the denials of unemployment benefits to the Board of Review. In any event, we consider his argument to be without sufficient merit to warrant any further discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E).

We will not disturb administrative agency decisions that are factually supported by substantial credible evidence, are not arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable, and which comply with the agency's legislative mandate. Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210-11 (1997). In this case, the credible evidence warranted the agency's action in denying Aranguren unemployment benefits in accord with federal and state law.


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