December 14, 2010
NADEEN ROTKIN, APPELLANT,
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, AND TEMPLE BETH SHOLOM, RESPONDENTS.
On appeal from a Final Administrative Decision of the Board of Review, Department of Labor, No. 228,630.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted November 8, 2010 - Decided Before Judges Kestin and Newman.
Respondent Temple Beth Sholom has not filed a brief.
In this appeal, Nadeen Rotkin, the claimant, challenges a decision of the Board of Review affirming an Appeal Tribunal determination denying her claim for unemployment benefits as invalid on the bases that her employer was exempt from statutory contribution requirements and that none of the established thresholds for eligibility had otherwise been met. We have reviewed the record in the light of the arguments advanced by the parties, and we affirm.
Claimant filed her claim for unemployment benefits on March 25, 2009, the day after she was terminated from her job as director of the Helen Troum Nursery and Kindergarten, apparently because of low enrollments. She testified that she had commenced her employment on September 1, 2007, at an annual salary of $63,500. In January 2009, she took a $5,000 reduction in salary because of the low enrollments.
Claimant designated Temple Beth Sholom of Fair Lawn as her employer and so testified at the Appeal Tribunal hearing. The Temple, availing itself of an exemption for religious organizations in N.J.S.A. 43:21-19(i)(1)(D)(i), had made no unemployment and temporary disability contributions generally required of employers in this State, and had not withheld and paid over any employee contributions from claimant's wages. At the hearing, claimant also testified that, while the nursery school operated in the synagogue building, the entities were independent of each other financially and structurally, although payrolls were processed through the synagogue.
We are constrained on appeal by the standards of the substantial evidence rule, mandating that we accept a hearer's findings based on substantial evidence in the record, see Brady v. Board of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210-11 (1997); and the requirement that we accord deference to an agency's policy-based determinations within the subject matter field assigned to it, as long as they are rooted in reasonable interpretations of the governing statutes, see id. at 211-22. See also Greenwood v. State Police Training Ctr., 127 N.J. 500, 513 (1992) (appeals are to be conducted with due regard for the "agency's expertise and superior knowledge of a particular field."); Charatan v. Board of Review, 200 N.J. Super. 74, 79 (App. Div. 1985) ("In 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.")
Here, the determinations that Temple Beth Sholom was claimant's employer, that contributions were not made, and that the employer was within the religious organization or school exemption of the statute, all meet the standards of Brady, Greenwood, and Charatan.
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