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Elizabeth Line v. Board of Review

March 24, 2011

ELIZABETH LINE, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND MATHENY SCHOOL AND HOSPITAL, INC., RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 226,201.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued February 7, 2011

Before Judges Lisa and Alvarez.

Claimant Elizabeth Line appeals an August 31, 2009 decision of the Department of Labor's Board of Review finding her disqualified for unemployment benefits. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

Line was employed full-time at respondent Matheny School and Hospital, Inc., earning $20 per hour as a creative facilitator. Three weeks before leaving her employment there, her hours were reduced from 37.5 to 30 per week. Her employer explained that the position would no longer be full-time, but that she should be patient and wait for future changes. She was not told the length of time the reduction to 30 hours would be in effect. On June 7, 2008, Line left the position to seek full-time work.

Line filed a claim for unemployment on June 8, 2008, and, on July 10, 2008, was determined by the deputy claims examiner to be disqualified from benefits because she left the job voluntarily. Her appeal of that July 10, 2008 decision was not filed until April 9, 2009, nor heard until May 28, 2009, because Line allegedly did not receive notice of the denial of benefits until she inquired about the status of her claim at an unemployment office.

On June 1, 2009, the Appeal Tribunal found that, because Line left her job in the face of only a temporary change and because she was earning more than eighty percent of her pay, she had refused, "without good cause, to accept . . . suitable work. " N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(c). Her decision to leave was not found to be voluntary and "without good cause attributable to such work," N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(c). The decision stated she was only disqualified from June 8, 2008, through July 5, 2008.

Throughout this process, Line continued to be unemployed and collected benefits from July 5, 2008 forward totaling $28,969. On June 9, 2009, Line appealed the Appeal Tribunal's decision to the Board of Review.

The Board modified the Appeal Tribunal's decision, finding Line disqualified entirely from June 8, 2008 forward. Applying Zielenski v. Board of Review, 85 N.J. Super. 46, 53 (App. Div. 1964), and N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a), the Board concluded Line simply did not have good cause for leaving work and was therefore disqualified from benefits.

Before this court, Line argues her separation from employment was indeed for good cause and claims she should not be liable to reimburse past benefits received as the Appeal Tribunal correctly classified her status. Line did not actually appeal the issue of reimbursement, therefore we will not address it in this opinion.

The scope of our review of administrative agency action is limited and highly deferential. It is restricted to the following inquiries:

(1) whether the agency's decision offends the State or Federal Constitution; (2) whether the agency's action violates express or implied legislative policies; (3) whether the record contains substantial evidence to support the findings on which the agency based its action; and (4) whether in applying the legislative policies to the facts, the agency clearly erred in reaching a conclusion that could not reasonably have been made on a showing of the relevant factors. [Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210-11 (1997) (quoting George Harms Constr. v. N.J. Tpk. Auth., 137 N.J. 8, 27 (1994)).]

So long as the Board's decision is supported by sufficient credible evidence in the record and was neither "arbitrary, capricious, [nor] ...


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