February 24, 2010
EFREM BALL, APPELLANT,
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, AND CENTRAL LEWMAR, L.L.C., RESPONDENTS.
On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Docket No. 186,381.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted February 4, 2010
Before Judges Fuentes and Simonelli.
Appellant Efrem Ball appeals from the final decision of the Board of Review (Board) that affirmed the Appeal Tribunal's determination that he is disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits because he left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to such work, N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a).
Appellant contends that his employer caused his unemployment by unjustifiably suspending him without pay, thus creating an economic hardship resulting in his inability to pay his commuting expenses. Based upon our review of the record, in light of the applicable law, we conclude that appellant's contention is without sufficient merit to warrant further discussion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(E). However, we add the following comments.
Appellant began working for Central Lewmar, LLC (Central) as a fork lift operator on January 21, 2008. On March 7, 2008, he was indefinitely suspended without pay for insubordination and "threatening action." Appellant filed a grievance through his union. The suspension was upheld, but modified to ten days through March 17, 2008.
Central instructed appellant to report to work on March 18, 2008. Appellant refused to return to work unless Central paid his commuting expenses in advance.*fn1 Central would not do so.
Appellant declined his family's offer to lend him money for his commuting expenses, and never returned to work.
"[G]enerally commuting troubles will not be considered work-related." Utley v. Board of Review, 194 N.J. 534, 551 (2008). "[W]hen "commuting problems" arise solely from the personal circumstances of the worker, unrelated to an alteration in the terms or conditions of employment, the worker who voluntarily quits his job cannot show "good cause" qualifying him for benefits. Id. at 544-45.
Central did not alter the terms or conditions of appellant's employment, and did not interfere in any way with appellant's ability to commute to work. Rather, appellant's commuting problem resulted from his suspension for insubordination and "threatening action." Accordingly, he has failed to establish "good cause" qualifying him for unemployment benefits.