On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 224,056.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted January 4, 2011 - Decided
Before Judges Baxter and Koblitz.
Lloyd Sherman appeals from an October 15, 2009 final agency decision of the Board of Review (Board), which found that Sherman was disqualified for unemployment compensation benefits pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a) because he left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to his employment. We affirm.
After forty-five years of employment with Aero Manufacturing, Inc. (Aero), Sherman resigned his position as a shipping manager to accept a position with another company, Barham-Goodkin (Barham). Sherman's resignation from Aero was effective December 31, 2008, and he was scheduled to begin his new job at Barham during the third week of January 2009; however, before Sherman reported for duty, Barham notified him it was on the verge of filing for bankruptcy and was therefore withdrawing its offer of employment. Sherman thereafter filed a claim for unemployment compensation benefits.
On March 16, 2009, a deputy claims examiner rejected Sherman's application, finding him disqualified for benefits because he left his employment at Aero voluntarily without good cause attributable to his employment. After filing an appeal of the adverse decision, Sherman participated in a telephonic hearing before the Appeal Tribunal, which on July 2, 2009, affirmed the deputy's determination that Sherman was ineligible for benefits because he left his work at Aero voluntarily for personal reasons unrelated to his employment. In particular, the Appeals Examiner concluded that Sherman "left work because he accepted employment with another employer. This was a personal reason and was not attributable to the work. Therefore, [Sherman] is disqualified for benefits as of 12/28/08, under N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a), as he left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to such work." On October 15, 2009, the Board affirmed the decision of the Appeal Tribunal.
On appeal, Sherman contends the Board's decision was erroneous, because he "did not voluntarily join the ranks of the unemployed." To the contrary, he "had been a diligent hardworking man, employed by the same employer continuously for forty-five years [who] had contributed extensively to . . . Aero, and had a good working relationship with the original owner over the years." When his original boss retired, and the boss's son took over the running of the company, "all of that changed dramatically" because Sherman was "unable to work well" with his new boss. According to Sherman, no matter what he did, "it was never acceptable to the son" and "[t]he environment, in which [he] had flourished since 1963, became virtually unbearable." Thus, when offered the opportunity to accept employment at Barham, "he took it" because Barham offered him "a way out of the situation." Then, through no fault of his own, Barham filed for bankruptcy, leaving Sherman unemployed. He maintains the unemployment compensation law was never intended to allow a hard-working individual such as himself to "fall through the cracks."
We review Sherman's contentions in accordance with our standard of review. The Board's determination that Sherman was disqualified from receiving benefits must be affirmed unless it is "arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable" or is not supported by substantial credible evidence in the record as a whole. Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210 (1997). In determining whether an agency's decision is supported by substantial credible evidence, we are obliged to accord deference to the agency's factfinding. Associated Util. Servs., Inc. v. Bd. of Review, 131 N.J. Super. 584, 588 (App. Div. 1974).
An appellate court "may not vacate an agency's determination merely because of doubts as to its wisdom or because the record may support more than one result." In re Petition of County of Essex, 299 N.J. Super. 577, 591-92 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 151 N.J. 463 (1997), cert. denied, 522 U.S. 1111, 118 S. Ct. 1043, 140 L. Ed. 2d 108 (1998). "'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.'" Brady, supra, 152 N.J. at 210 (quoting Charatan v. Bd. of Review, 200 N.J. Super. 74, 79 (App. Div. 1985)). Therefore, if the record contains sufficient credible, competent evidence to support the agency's conclusions, then we must uphold them. Clowes v. Terminix Int'l, Inc., 109 N.J. 575, 588 (1988).
At the time Sherman's claim was denied,*fn1 a section of the New Jersey Unemployment Compensation Law, N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a), provided that a claimant is disqualified for benefits:
[f]or the week in which the individual has left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to such work, and for each week thereafter until the individual becomes reemployed and works for four weeks in employment . . . and has earned in employment at least six times the ...