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Lansing v. Board of Review

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


August 17, 2010

ALAN E. LANSING, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT, AND TIFFANY (NJ), L.L.C.,*FN1 RESPONDENTS.

On appeal from a Final Decision of the Board of Review, Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Docket No. 221,708.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted August 3, 2010

Before Judges Graves and Yannotti.

Alan E. Lansing (Lansing) appeals from a final determination of the Board of Review (Board), which found that his claim for unemployment benefits was invalid because he did not establish sufficient base weeks of employment or earnings for a valid claim. We affirm.

The following facts are pertinent to our decision. Lansing filed a claim for unemployment benefits as of January 4, 2009. A deputy to the Director of the Division of Unemployment Insurance denied the claim. Lansing filed an appeal from the deputy's determination to the Appeal Tribunal, which conducted a hearing in the matter on May 27, 2009. Thereafter, the Appeal Tribunal issued a written decision, which was mailed the parties on May 27, 2009.

The Appeal Tribunal found that, in the period from October 1, 2007, and January 3, 2009, Tiffany (NJ) L.L.C. (Tiffany) was Lansing's only employer. The Appeal Tribunal additionally found that, during the quarter ending September 30, 2008, Lansing worked two weeks in which he earned at least $143, and had total earning of $343.62. The Appeal Tribunal further found that, during the quarter ending December 31, 2008, Lansing worked thirteen weeks in which he earned at least $143, and had total earnings of $3368.77.

Based on these facts, the Appeal Tribunal determined that Lansing failed to establish that he worked sufficient base weeks or earned a sufficient amount of monies in the regular base year or any alternative base year, for his claim. The Appeal Tribunal therefore found that Lansing did not qualify for unemployment benefits. Lansing appealed the Appeal Tribunal's decision to the Board, which rendered a final determination that was mailed on July 22, 2009. The Board upheld the Appeal Tribunal's decision. This appeal followed.

An administrative agency's decision may not be disturbed unless it is shown to be arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable. Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210 (1997). We can only intervene "'in those rare circumstances in which an agency action is clearly inconsistent with its statutory mission or with other State policy.'" Ibid. (quoting George Harms Constr. v. N.J. Tpk. Auth., 137 N.J. 8, 27 (1994)). Furthermore, "'[i]n reviewing the factual findings made in an unemployment compensation 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 factfinder could reasonably so conclude upon the proofs.'" Ibid. (quoting Charatan v. Bd. of Review, 200 N.J. Super. 74, 79 (App. Div. 1985)) (alteration in original).

Here, the Board upheld the Appeal Tribunal's finding that Lansing did not qualify for unemployment benefits because he did not establish sufficient base weeks or earnings for a valid claim. There is sufficient credible evidence in the record to support the Board's determination.

As we stated previously, the record shows that Lansing filed his claim for benefits as of January 4, 2009. Thus, under N.J.S.A. 43:21-19(c), the regular base year for Lansing's claim was the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the claim was filed, or October 1, 2007, through September 30, 2008.

N.J.S.A. 43:21-4(e)(4) establishes criteria for the receipt of unemployment compensation benefits. An individual is qualified for benefits if he or she has:

(A) Established at least [twenty] base weeks as defined in paragraphs (2) and (3) of [N.J.S.A. 43:21-19(t)]; or

(B) If the individual has not met the requirements of subparagraph (A) of this paragraph (4), earned remuneration not less than an amount 1,000 times the minimum wage in effect pursuant to [N.J.S.A. 34:11-56(a)(4)] on October 1 of the calendar year preceding the calendar year in which the benefit year commences, which amount shall be adjusted to the next higher multiple of $100 if not already a multiple thereof.

The record shows that Lansing did not work any weeks during the fourth quarter of 2007 or the first two quarters of 2008.

Lansing only worked two weeks in New Jersey during the third quarter of 2008. The record also shows that, in the regular base year, Lansing only earned $343.62. This is less that 1000 times the minimum wage as of October 1, 2008, which was $7200. Therefore, Lansing did not have sufficient base weeks of employment or earnings in the regular base year to qualify for benefits under N.J.S.A. 43:21-4(e)(4).

Because Lansing did not establish sufficient employment or earnings in the regular base year, the agency next considered whether he had the requisite weeks of employment or earnings in his alternate base years. N.J.S.A. 43:21-19(c)(1). The agency found that, during these periods, Lansing failed to establish the required weeks of employment or earnings.

Lansing does not dispute the agency's findings regarding his weeks of employment or earnings. He argues, however, that the lack of sufficient weeks of employment was due to matters outside of his control.

Lansing says that his employer should have paid him for his time off to ensure that he would be able to obtain unemployment benefits, or paid him a fixed wage regardless of how many hours he worked. He contends that his employer is a "multi-national billion dollar a year conglomerate with very deep pockets" and could have readily afforded this expense.

We are convinced that these contentions are entirely without merit. Lansing failed to meet the statutory eligibility criteria and, under the circumstances, the Board correctly found that he was not entitled to unemployment benefits.

Affirmed.


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