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Cruz v. Board of Review

November 10, 2010

EMMANUEL CRUZ, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND Z BUSINESS PROTOTYPES, LLC, RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from a Final Decision of the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 236,665.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 12, 2010

Before Judges Carchman and Waugh.

Petitioner Emmanuel Cruz appeals from the final agency action of the Department of Labor, Division of Unemployment and Disability Insurance (Division) denying his application for unemployment insurance benefits. We affirm.

Cruz was employed by respondent Z Business Prototypes Corporation (Z Business) as a sales manager until his resignation on May 9, 2009. The resignation took place after the owner of Z Business informed Cruz and two other managers that their paychecks would be docked $80 each to cover a cash shortfall of $240 from the cash register. Cruz angrily punched a hole in the wall and was sent home by the owner. He decided to quit his job and never returned to the workplace. Despite the threat, the owner never docked the pay of any of the sales managers.

Cruz filed a claim for unemployment benefits, to be effective May 31, 2009. The Division's Deputy Director determined that Cruz was entitled to benefits without any disqualification, finding that his reason for leaving "constitute[d] good cause attributable to work." Z Business appealed that decision. The Appeal Tribunal held a hearing on August 7, 2009. Cruz testified to his reasons for leaving. One of the other sales managers testified that the owner never actually docked his pay or that of the others. The Appeal Tribunal affirmed the Deputy Director's decision.

Z Business appealed to the Board of Review (Board). On December 14, 2009, the Board reversed the decision of the Appeal Tribunal and held that Cruz did not leave work "with good cause attributable to the work."

The claimant acted hastily when he left before knowing if his pay would be docked. Substantial evidence at the hearing revealed the pay was not docked and the claimant has not shown good cause for leaving work.

Because Cruz had received benefits based on the contrary decisions of the Deputy Director and the Appeal Tribunal, the Board did not require him to return any benefits received prior to August 1, 2009, which was the Saturday before the date of the Appeal Tribunal hearing. This appeal followed.

"The judicial capacity to review administrative agency decisions is limited." Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210 (1997). Generally speaking, we will "intervene only in those rare circumstances in which an agency action is clearly inconsistent with its statutory mission or with other State policy." George Harms Constr. Co. v. N.J. Tpk. Auth., 137 N.J. 8, 27 (1994). Only if the agency's action was arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable should it be disturbed. Brady, supra, 152 N.J. at 210.

The purpose of New Jersey's Unemployment Compensation Act (Act), N.J.S.A. 43:21-1 to -71, "is to provide some income for the worker earning nothing, because he is out of work through no fault or act of his own . . . ." Yardville Supply Co. v. Bd. of Review, 114 N.J. 371, 375 (1989) (quotation omitted). Although the Act is remedial in nature, it is the claimant who bears the burden of proving entitlement to benefits. Brady, supra, 152 N.J. at 218. And, "[t]he basic policy of the [Act] is advanced as well when benefits are denied in improper cases as when they are allowed in proper cases." Yardville, supra, 114 N.J. at 374.

N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a)*fn1 provides:

An individual shall be disqualified ...


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