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McClendon-McNeil v. Board of Review


July 21, 2010


On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 212,182.

Per curiam.


Submitted: June 16, 2010

Before Judges Cuff and Fasciale.

Janice S. McClendon-McNeil appeals from a final Board of Review determination that she is disqualified for unemployment benefits pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a). We affirm.

McClendon-McNeil was employed by the New Jersey Association on Correction-Millicent Fenwick House (NJAC) as a case manager. On October 24, 2008, McClendon-McNeil resigned to follow her husband whose job was relocated to South Carolina. Continuing work was available at the NJAC.

On October 26, 2008, McClendon-McNeil filed a claim for unemployment compensation benefits. On December 10, 2008, a deputy claims examiner found that she was disqualified for benefits. He found that:

You left your job on [October 24, 2008] to relocate for personal reasons. Although these reasons are compelling, they are still personal. Therefore, your reasons do not constitute good cause attributable to the work and you are disqualified for benefits.

On December 16, 2008, McClendon-McNeil appealed to the Appeal Tribunal. On March 24, 2009, McClendon-McNeil and a representative of NJAC participated in a telephone hearing. At the hearing, McClendon-McNeil testified that the only reason for leaving work was to relocate to South Carolina with her husband after his job transfer. On March 24, 2009, the Appeal Tribunal found that McClendon-McNeil was disqualified for benefits under N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a), which provides that a claimant is disqualified from benefits if he or she "le[aves] work voluntarily without good cause attributable to such work . . . ."

On March 30, 2009, McClendon-McNeil appealed to the Board of Review. On May 18, 2009, the Board affirmed the decision of the Appeal Tribunal. This appeal followed.

On appeal, McClendon-McNeil argues that she left her job with NJAC to follow her husband, and she was unable to find employment in South Carolina in her field. She cites N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a) for support that she is entitled to unemployment benefits.*fn1

Generally, the scope of appellate review of an administrative body's final decision is a limited one. Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210-11 (1997). A reviewing court must "not upset a determination by [an agency] in the absence of a showing that it was arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable, or that it lacked fair support in the evidence, or that it violated legislative policies expressed or implicit in the civil service act." Campbell v. Dep't of Civil Serv., 39 N.J. 556, 562 (1963) (citing Marro v. Civil Serv. Dep't, 57 N.J. Super. 335, 346 (App. Div. 1959)).

Here, there is no dispute that McClendon-McNeil left her job to move to South Carolina with her husband. The only issue is whether claimant "left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to such work." N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a). "A claimant who quits 'has the burden of proving that he did so with good cause attributable to the work.'" Heulitt v. Bd. of Review, 300 N.J. Super. 407, 414 (App. Div. 1997) (quoting Zielenski v. Bd. of Review, 85 N.J. Super. 46, 52 (App. Div. 1964)). A claimant who leaves her employment to move to another state due to the relocation of a spouse does not satisfy the statutory standard. N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a); N.J.A.C. 12:17-9.1(3)(6). The reason for leaving employment may be a good reason, but it is not a reason attributable to her work.

We, thus, find the Board's decision was not arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable.


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