January 22, 2010
CHRISTINE HIDALGO, APPELLANT,
BOARD OF REVIEW, AND DR. HANDMADE STRINGS, RESPONDENTS.
On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 198,940.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 1, 2009
Before Judges Skillman and Fuentes.
Appellant Christine Hidalgo appeals from the final decision of the Board of Review denying her application for unemployment compensation benefits. We affirm.
On August 14, 2007, Dr. Handmade Strings, Inc., hired Hidalgo to package, collate, and ship merchandise. At that time Hidalgo had been recently released from prison and was residing in a halfway house transitional facility operated by the New Jersey Department of Corrections in Newark. Hidalgo used public transportation to travel from Newark to her place of employment located in the Borough of Emerson in Bergen County. According to Hidalgo, her daily commute lasted from ninety minutes to two hours one way.
Sometime in the early part of July 2008, Hidalgo was released from the halfway house and relocated to her original place of residence in South Jersey. On July 17, 2008, Hidalgo resigned from her job, advising her employer that it was impractical for her to commute from her residence to Bergen County on a daily basis.
On these facts, Hidalgo thereafter applied for unemployment compensation benefits. On August 21, 2008, the Deputy Director of the Division of Unemployment and Disability Insurance found Hidalgo ineligible for benefits on the grounds that she had left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to her work. N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a). The Appeal Tribunal, and thereafter, the Board of Review affirmed the Deputy Director's decision.
Hidalgo now appeals from the Board's decision, arguing that the decision to deny her unemployment benefits was arbitrary and capricious because the Board failed to recognize that, but for her release from the halfway house in Newark, she would not have relocated to South Jersey. Her decision to resign was thus involuntary.
We reject this argument and affirm substantially for the reasons expressed by the Board. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(D). To qualify for unemployment benefits under N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a), the decision to leave work must be directly related to the work. Commuting difficulties are usually considered the problem of the employee. White v. Bd. of Review, 146 N.J. Super. 268, 270 (App. Div. 1977).
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