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Helen E. Cerreto v. Board of Review

February 23, 2011

HELEN E. CERRETO, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND STERN & KILCULLEN, LLC, RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from a Final Decision of the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 208,827.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 8, 2010

Before Judges Fuentes and Ashrafi.

Claimant Helen Cerreto appeals from a final decision of the Board of Review, Department of Labor, (the Board) denying her claim for extended unemployment compensation benefits. We affirm.

Cerreto worked for sixteen years as a receptionist for the law firm of Stern & Kilcullen located in Roseland, Essex County. In March 2006, she took leave and obtained temporary disability benefits from the State because of a serious medical condition affecting her back. Near the end of her eligibility for temporary disability benefits, Cerreto called the law firm and left a voicemail message for the office manager, Madelene Magazino. In relevant part, Cerreto's message was as follows:

I'm still not well. I'm not coming back. I have to stay out on sick leave and I'll be speaking to you down the road, you know, regarding my sick leave and my sick pay and transferring my 401-K to my IRAs.

I just can't move and now my hip is going out and I don't want to be a burden to the firm of Stern & Kilcullen. I've given them seventeen wonderful years and I can't give you any more at this time.

I'm living down in Manalapan [Monmouth County]. The trip is two hours each [d]ay and I think with my particular problem the doctors have suggested that I don't drive the two hours each day. However, I was willing to do it, but they said it's dangerous for me because of the rheumatoid osteoporosis and the fused disks in my spine. One slip, one push, one accident and I could be paralyzed for life. So rather than run that risk -- I had a long time to think about this.

This is just a terrible time in my life and I'm doing the best I can to carry on and go forward and walk and I go to the doctors, the chiropractor and the physical therapist every morning. It's costing me close to $35,000 and I'm still -- although better, it will never be healed, but I still have a lot of pain with it and I know you understand.

The following day, September 26, 2006, Magazino wrote a letter to Cerreto with the subject line "Resignation of Reception Position With Stern & Kilcullen, LLC." The text of the letter stated in full:

This letter shall serve as a formal confirmation of your telephone voice mail to me of Monday, September 25, 2006 wherein you advised that you will not be returning to work. If this is not correct, please advise me within ten days of the date of this letter.

Cerreto did not respond to the letter. Instead, she collected private disability benefits from the law firm's insurance carrier from September 2006 through December 2007. She also filed an application for unemployment benefits on October 22, 2006, but she did nothing more on the application at that time because she was receiving disability benefits.

In July 2008, the Department of Labor notified Cerreto that she might be eligible for extended unemployment benefits. She applied and received benefits from July 12 through December 6, 2008, and from January 10 through August 15, 2009. Stern & Kilcullen appealed the decision to grant Cerreto unemployment ...


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