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Casazza v. Board of Review

September 27, 2010

JUDITH M. CASAZZA, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, AND PORTER, GOLDBERG AND MARTIN, RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from a Final Decision of the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 221,395.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 14, 2010

Before Judges Yannotti and Espinosa.

Appellant Judith M. Casazza (Casazza) appeals from a final determination of the Board of Review (Board), which found that she is disqualified from unemployment compensation benefits pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a) and required her to refund the $1,512 in benefits that had been paid to her for the weeks ending January 24, 2009 through February 14, 2009. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

The following are the most relevant facts. Beginning on June 23, 2008, Casazza was employed as a full-time receptionist for a group of practicing oral surgeons. On January 7, 2009, Casazza resigned her position with the group. In her letter of resignation, Casazza stated that she had been called that day to a meeting with Barbara Smith (Smith), the office manager, and Dr. Kenneth Goldberg (Goldberg), one of the surgeons in the office.

At the meeting, Goldberg told Casazza that he had received complaints from patients and other doctors' offices about her behavior. Goldberg said that Casazza's conduct would not be tolerated and she had to change. In her letter of resignation, Casazza wrote that she was taken off guard by these "accusations" because she had worked hard and performed the job "beyond most normal expectations."

Casazza also wrote that the office's "hours and expectations" had been "very stressful" but she had "always [been] there when needed, sometimes at the expense of [her] personal responsibilities." Casazza additionally wrote that, although she had intended that her resignation would take effect immediately, Smith had persuaded her to remain until a replacement was hired or for two additional weeks.

Casazza left the job on January 12, 2009, and on January 18, 2009, filed a claim for unemployment compensation benefits. On March 12, 2009, a deputy claims examiner issued a determination finding that Casazza was disqualified from benefits pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a) from January 11, 2009, because she left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work. At about the same time, the Director of the Division of Unemployment Insurance issued to Casazza a request for a refund of the $1,512 in benefits she had been paid for the weeks ending January 24, 2009 through February 14, 2009.

On March 12, 2009, Casazza sought review by the Appeal Tribunal of the deputy claims examiner's determination. An appeals examiner conducted a hearing in the matter on March 31, 2009. At the hearing, Casazza testified that there was "a lot of stress going on in the office[.]" Casazza stated that, when she was hired, she expected the job would be a four-day-a-week position but she began to work a five-day week because the person hired for the full-time position "never showed up[.]"

Casazza said that the office was "very short staffed" and, although she had "a dental background," Casazza did not have a "medical background." Casazza felt stress because she was not familiar with medical procedures. Casazza also had concerns about the biopsy reports and she was not familiar with "calling in" medications. She testified, however, that initially she was not reprimanded or told she was not doing a good job.

Casazza further testified that, shortly before Christmas of 2008, an incident occurred with a patient that "totally stressed [her] out[.]" Casazza stated that a young man had come into the office. There was a question as to whether the patient had insurance coverage and he told her to check his coverage on the computer. Casazza said she was not familiar with how to verify his coverage and her co-worker also could not check on it. Casazza told the patient he would have to pay up front.

According to Casazza, the patient "stormed out" of the office and returned forty-five minutes later. He handed her further information about his insurance. Casazza reported the matter to Dr. Bradford Porter (Porter), who said he would handle the situation. Later, the patient told Casazza that "somebody" had made his Christmas "miserable and he was going to make somebody else's Christmas miserable." Casazza testified that the patient told her that she did not know who she "was messing with."

Casazza said she started "shaking." She called her boyfriend and also reported the matter to Porter. When the patient was leaving the office, he again acted in a manner that upset Casazza. The father of another patient, who was in the office at the time, agreed to walk Casazza out to her car and follow her when she drove out of town in order to ensure that she was safe. Casazza contacted ...


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