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Naida A. Frazier v. Board of Review

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


February 25, 2011

NAIDA A. FRAZIER, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, AND RITE AID OF NEW JERSEY, INC., RESPONDENTS.

On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 193,261.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted: February 16, 2011 - Decided: Before Judges Cuff and Simonelli.

Claimant appeals the final decision of the Board of Review (Board) disqualifying her from receipt of unemployment compensation after she left her employment at a pharmacy. The Board held she voluntarily left her job without good cause attributable to the work. We affirm.

Claimant began her employment with Rite Aid in September 1999. When she left her job in June 2008, she held the position of Assistant Manager.

Following the arrival of a new store manager in May 2008, claimant testified that issues arose regarding scheduling, handling incoming shipments, and distributing work among employees. Claimant communicated her concerns verbally and in writing. Her complaints to the loss prevention manager, district manager, and a regional vice-president went unanswered, and she left her job.

The Appeal Tribunal acknowledged claimant's dissatisfaction with work procedures and her attempts to rectify the problems. Nevertheless, the Appeal Tribunal held that mere dissatisfaction with work conditions does not permit an employee to leave her job and obtain unemployment benefits. The Appeal Tribunal also held that the work environment described by claimant did not "establish an adverse working environment and the claimant's concerns did not adversely impact her work performance or her ability to perform her work related duties." Therefore, the Appeal Tribunal considered her resignation a voluntary quit. The Board accepted these findings.

N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a) of the New Jersey Unemployment Compensation Law provides 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 four*fn1 weeks in employment . . . and has earned in employment or . . . at least six times the individual's weekly benefit rate . . . . An employee who has left work voluntarily has the burden of proving that she did so with good cause attributable to the work. Morgan v. Bd. of Review, 77 N.J. Super. 209, 213 (App. Div. 1962).

In Domenico v. Board of Review, 192 N.J. Super. 284 (App. Div. 1983), this court stated that "[w]hile the statute does not define 'good cause,' our courts have construed the statute to mean cause sufficient to justify an employee's voluntarily leaving the ranks of the employed and joining the ranks of the unemployed." Id. at 287 (internal quotations omitted). We further stated:

In scrutinizing an employee's reason for leaving, the test is one of ordinary common sense and prudence. Mere dissatisfaction with working conditions which are not shown to be abnormal or do not affect health, does not constitute good cause for leaving work voluntarily. The decision to leave employment must be compelled by real, substantial and reasonable circumstances not imaginary, trifling and whimsical ones . . .

[I]t is the employee's responsibility to do what is necessary and reasonable in order to remain employed. [Id. at 288 (internal quotations omitted) (emphasis added).]

The statutory scheme outlined by the Legislature envisions that unemployment compensation benefits be paid only to those individuals who have become unemployed through no fault of their own. Medwick v. Bd. of Review, 69 N.J. Super. 338, 340 (App. Div. 1961). The Board is obligated to preserve the fund against the claims of those not intended to share in its benefits. Schock v. Bd. of Review, 89 N.J. Super. 118, 125 (App. Div. 1965), aff'd o.b., 48 N.J. 121 (1996).

Here, claimant expressed dissatisfaction with the manner in which a newly assigned manager did her job. The failure to continue practices of a prior manager may have been disruptive to long-time employees; however, there is insufficient evidence that some altered practices and procedures created an environment that interfered with claimant's ability to do her job. Claimant left her job only one month following the arrival of the newly assigned store manager. We discern no basis in this record to disturb the findings of the Board.

Affirmed.


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