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Wilson v. Board of Review

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


October 14, 2010

CAROL A. WILSON, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, AND ANADIGICS, RESPONDENTS.

On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 188,591.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 21, 2010

Before Judges Wefing and Baxter.

Petitioner, Carol A. Wilson, appeals from a Final Decision of the Board of Review denying her application for unemployment compensation benefits. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm.

Petitioner was employed by Anadigics for approximately eleven years, divided into two distinct segments, the last of which ran from June 2002 through October 2007. Although the record is not clear as to the precise nature of the business of Anadigics, her position was that of "operator specialist." In October 2007, she was working the midnight shift, which, she said, called for her to be on her feet for the shift's entire twelve hours. She said she suffered from foot problems which prevented her from standing for twelve hours. She also said the shift was understaffed, putting more pressure on her, leading to anxiety and depression. She attempted to obtain an eight-hour shift but that did not accord with Anadigics staffing model. She suffered a panic attack and, diagnosed with panic disorder, anxiety and major depressive disorder went on short-term disability in October 2007.

When she was cleared to return to work, her physician requested she be placed on a day shift. She learned that several positions were available, one another twelve-hour shift and another a part-time position, at which she would not receive benefits. She said her problems with her feet precluded her from standing for twelve hours and that the other position involved exposure to chemicals, which would aggravate her asthma and congestive obstructive pulmonary disease. She made no effort to verify that this position did, in fact, involve chemical exposure. Neither did she provide any written report or note from a physician to the effect that her health precluded her from taking these posts. Instead, on April 22, 2008, she sent an e-mail to her employer, resigning immediately. She did not provide such a physician's note until nearly three weeks later; the note dealt only with petitioner's foot condition, not her asthma.

After receiving petitioner's resignation, the employer notified her of three other positions that would be available for her. Two were part-time and did not provide benefits and one, petitioner assumed, again without seeking verification, involved chemical exposure. Petitioner did not seek to rescind her resignation or to extend her period of disability to gather further medical documentation.

Thereafter, she filed a claim for unemployment compensation benefits. Although she was initially deemed eligible on the basis that she had left her employment because it was adversely affecting her health, Anadigics challenged that determination and a hearing was conducted. The examiner noted the chronology we have set forth and concluded that petitioner was disqualified for unemployment compensation benefits because she had left her position voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work. N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a). Petitioner challenged that determination, and the Board of Review remanded the matter to the Appeal Tribunal for further testimony. After again hearing from petitioner, the Appeal Tribunal again determined that petitioner was not eligible for unemployment compensation benefits under N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a). The Board of Review concurred.

We note first the limited scope of our review. A final decision of an administrative body such as the Board of Review should not be disturbed on appeal unless that decision is arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable. Karins v. City of Atlantic City, 152 N.J. 532, 540 (1988). An appellate court should undertake a "careful and principled consideration of the agency record and findings." Riverside Gen. Hosp. v. N.J. Hosp. Rate Setting Comm'n, 98 N.J. 458, 468 (1985). The agency's findings should be affirmed if they "could reasonably have been reached on sufficient credible evidence present in the record, considering the proofs as a whole . . . with due regard also to the agency's expertise . . . ." Close v. Kordulak Bros., 44 N.J. 589, 599 (1965) (citation omitted).

Here, petitioner, who asserted that she left her employment for good cause associated with her health, failed to carry her burden to establish that proposition. "The decision to leave employment must be compelled by real, substantial, and reasonable circumstances . . . . [I]t is the employee's responsibility to do what is necessary and reasonable in order to remain employed." Domenico v. Bd. of Review, 192 N.J. Super. 284, 288 (App. Div. 1983) (citations omitted).

Petitioner did not submit any medical corroboration of her claims until well after she had resigned. That documentation, moreover, dealt solely with the condition of her feet, not with her pulmonary problems. Further, she submitted her resignation without making any effort to determine precisely the nature of the work involved in the positions that had been offered to her; she merely assumed, based on past experience, that none were suitable.

We note the limited question before us: whether petitioner was eligible to receive unemployment compensation benefits after she severed her relationship with Anadigics. We agree with the Board of Review that she was not. The question of whether petitioner is responsible for refunding any of the unemployment benefits she may have received, and if so, in what amount, is a separate issue which is not before us.

The Final Decision of the Board of Review is affirmed.

20101014

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