On appeal from a Final Agency Decision of the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 45,270.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 29, 2010
Before Judges R. B. Coleman and J. N. Harris.
This appeal involves unemployment benefits that were paid in 2003 and 2004. Appellant Annmarie Jasinski Caporellie appeals from a final decision of the Board of Review (Board) entered on August 11, 2009, which determined appellant's liability to refund $15,093 in unemployment benefits that the Board determined she was ineligible to receive six years earlier. Because appellant timely sought to appeal her eligibility for those benefits but never was afforded that opportunity by the New Jersey Department of Labor, we vacate the decision of the Board and remand this matter for an entirely new hearing before the Appeal Tribunal that will determine whether appellant was eligible for unemployment benefits.
Appellant was employed by Dotcom Distribution (Dotcom) prior to May 1, 2003. The actual duration of her employment is not disclosed in the record. From what we can cobble together, on April 30, 2003, appellant either was fired or resigned from Dotcom due to personal problems. On May 4, 2003, appellant filed her initial claim for unemployment benefits.
After a fact-finding interview, appellant was found disqualified for unemployment benefits on the ground that she had left work without good cause attributable to the work.
Appellant sought review of that decision in a timely fashion with the Appeal Tribunal. On August 18, 2003, the Appeal Tribunal reversed the initial determination of disqualification. Dotcom appealed from that decision to the Board. On October 31, 2003, the Board remanded the matter to the Appeal Tribunal for a new hearing and decision.
This agency-ordered remand resulted in the Appeal Tribunal affirming the original determination of disqualification. It was now appellant who appealed to the Board. On May 14, 2004, a hearing of some type was conducted that is not explained in the record, and on June 2, 2004, the Board held that appellant was disqualified for benefits and referred the question of the potential refund of benefits received by appellant to the Director, Division of Unemployment Benefits (Director).
Two days later, on June 4, 2004, the Director issued a determination that appellant -- who was paid unemployment benefits in the amount of $15,093 for weeks ending May 10, 2003 through June 14, 2003 and from July 27, 2003 through March 31, 2004 -- refund those benefits. Appellant appealed from the Director's request for repayment, and on October 26, 2004, the Appeal Tribunal affirmed the determination and held appellant liable to refund $15,093. Appellant's appeal to the Board resulted in a slight modification of the weeks of ineligibility, but otherwise the Board's December 17, 2004, determination affirmed the Appeal Tribunal's finding that appellant was liable to refund $15,093.
Appellant's first appeal to this court was timely filed in January 2005. The pro se notice of appeal sought review of "the decision of the Board of Review dated [December 17, 2004]." In a letter received in this court on January 25, 2005, appellant stated, "I still maintain that I was discharged from the position on April 30th 2003."
The Board filed a motion a few months later, in June 2005, seeking a remand to the Board for a full hearing and redetermination because "the Board is unable to locate either the file or the tape of the Appeal Tribunal hearing in this case." In explaining the nature of the appeal that this motion was related to, the Board's moving papers referred to both aspects of appellant's grievance:
This appeal is from a Board of Review decision affirming the Appeal Tribunal's decision finding [a]ppellant ineligible for unemployment benefits and finding ...