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Gormeley v. Board of Review

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


March 10, 2010

CAROL GORMELEY, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EXPRESS PERSONNEL, RESPONDENTS.

On Appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 202,271.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted February 24, 2010

Before Judges Graves and J. N. Harris.

The claimant, Carol Gormeley, appeals from a final administrative decision of the Board of Review, dated February 20, 2009, which affirmed the Appeal Tribunal's denial of her application for unemployment benefits and found the claimant liable to repay the $478 received as benefits for the two-week period ending August 23, 2008, based upon the Appeal Tribunal's decision entered on December 22, 2008. The Appeal Tribunal concluded that claimant "left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to such work" and was therefore "disqualified for benefits as of [August 17, 2008]." See N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a); N.J.S.A. 43:21-16(d).

Gormeley was employed in New Jersey until March 2008. Thereafter, she voluntarily moved to North Carolina to take a job with Express Personnel, which paid less than what she considered to be a reasonable living wage. After several months, she decided that she could not survive on those earnings and so in August 2008, she resigned from her employment in North Carolina and returned to New Jersey, where she ultimately moved in with her brother. She immediately applied for unemployment benefits and received $478 before they were discontinued pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a), which requires work-related good cause for leaving one's job as a prerequisite for receiving unemployment benefits.

Both the Appeal Tribunal and Board of Review determined that claimant had left voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work. The claimant admittedly quit because she was looking for a better job, and she left on good terms. Given those findings, the deference we must give to the administrative agency, and our limited scope of review, we must affirm the final administrative determination. See Brady v. Board of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210, 213-14, 218 (1997).

N.J.S.A. 43:21-16(d) requires the full repayment of unemployment benefits received by any individual who was not actually entitled to those benefits in the first place. The obligation to repay stands, regardless of the good faith of the claimant. Bannan v. Bd. of Review, 299 N.J. Super. 671, 674 (App. Div. 1997); see also Fischer v. Bd. of Review, 123 N.J. Super. 263, 266 (App. Div. 1973).

"In reviewing the factual findings made in an unemployment proceeding, the test is not whether an appellate court would come to the same conclusion if the original determination was its to make, but rather whether the fact finder could reasonably so conclude upon the proofs." Brady, supra, 152 N.J. at 210 (internal quotation and citations omitted). Accordingly, if there is "substantial credible evidence" to support the agency's determination, we must not substitute our own judgment for that of the agency even if we "might have reached a different result." Ibid. We are to uphold the Board of Review's decision when there is substantial credible evidence in the record as a whole to support its factual findings. Self v. Bd. of Review, 91 N.J. 453, 459 (1982). In our limited review, unless we find an agency's action was arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable, we will not disturb it. Brady, supra, 152 N.J. at 210. That is not the situation here.

Affirmed.

20100310

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