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Marlene Dechert v. Board of Review


May 23, 2011


On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 239,858.

Per curiam.


Submitted: May 11, 2011

Before Judges Cuff and Sapp-Peterson.

Appellant Marlene Dechert appeals from a final order of the Board of Review (Board) that disqualified her from receipt of unemployment benefits pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a). The Board found that appellant left her job without good cause attributable to her work as an airline customer service agent. We affirm.

N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a) 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*fn2 the individual's weekly benefit rate . . . .

Good cause is not statutorily defined. The Supreme Court has 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.'" Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 214 (1997) (quoting Domenico v. Bd. of Review, 192 N.J. Super. 284, 287 (App. Div. 1983)). This court has 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. [Domenico, supra, 192 N.J. Super. at 288 (internal citations and quotations omitted).]

Stated differently, it is a claimant's responsibility to do whatever is reasonable and necessary in order to remain employed. Heulitt v. Bd. of Review, 300 N.J. Super. 407, 414 (App. Div. 1997). 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, 48 N.J. 121 (1966). In addition, 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).

The basic facts relating to appellant's separation from her employment with Delta Air Lines Global Services, LLC (Delta) are not in dispute. Delta arranged for training and provided appellant with scheduled times to commence on May 11, 2009. Appellant discovered that she had conflicts on two or three Saturdays and raised the issue with Julie Fisher, the station manager for Delta at Newark International Airport. Fisher advised appellant these conflicts did not pose a problem, but appellant needed to identify coverage for those days. Appellant stated that she attempted, but was unsuccessful in arranging such coverage. As a result, she resigned her position.

Appellate courts have a limited role in reviewing the decisions of administrative agencies. Brady, supra, 152 N.J. at 210. We will not reverse an agency decision unless it is "arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable" or it is "not supported by substantial credible evidence in the record as a whole." Henry v. Rahway State Prison, 81 N.J. 571, 579-80 (1980). See also Barry v. Arrow Pontiac, Inc., 100 N.J. 57, 71 (1985); Gloucester Cnty. Welfare Bd. v. N.J. Civil Serv. Comm'n, 93 N.J. 384, 391 (1983). In determining whether an agency decision is supported by substantial credible evidence, the reviewing court is obligated to accord deference to administrative agency factfinding. Doering v. Bd. of Review, 203 N.J. Super. 241, 245 (App. Div. 1985).

This court may not vacate an agency's determination because of doubts as to its wisdom or because the record may support more than one result. Flanagan v. Dep't of Civil Serv., 29 N.J. 1, 12 (1959). If the court finds sufficient credible, competent evidence in the record to support the agency's conclusions, then the court must uphold the agency's findings. See Clowes v. Terminex Int'l, Inc., 109 N.J. 575, 588 (1988); Goodman v. London Metals Exch., Inc., 86 N.J. 19, 28 (1981). Thus, an administrative agency's decision may be disturbed only where it can be demonstrated that the agency's decision is arbitrary or capricious, unsupported in the record, or in violation of express or implicit legislative policies. See N.J. Guild of Hearing Aid Dispensers v. Long, 75 N.J. 544, 562-63 (1978).

The record in this case contains substantial credible evidence supporting the determination of the Board that Dechert is disqualified for benefits pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a).

We are also satisfied that Delta appealed the decision of the deputy examiner in a timely fashion. Any appeal from a decision of the deputy examiner must be filed within seven calendar days after delivery. N.J.S.A. 43:21-6(b)(1). Delta received the initial decision on June 30, 2009; it filed its appeal on July 6, 2009.


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