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Kai A. Hunter v. Board of Review and New York City Board of Education

May 31, 2011

KAI A. HUNTER, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW AND NEW YORK CITY BOARD OF EDUCATION, RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 243,918.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 10, 2011

Before Judges Graves and Waugh.

Claimant Kai Hunter appeals from a final decision of the Board of Review (Board), which affirmed a decision by the Appeal Tribunal. The Appeal Tribunal determined that Hunter was not eligible to receive unemployment compensation benefits because she "left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to such work," and that she must repay the benefits she received in the amount of $22,545. We affirm.

During the Appeal Tribunal hearing on March 2, 2010, Hunter testified she was employed by the New York City Board of Education as a substance abuse counselor for seven months until mid-June 2008. During that seven-month period, Hunter was living in New Jersey, and her commuting expenses, including tolls and parking, were "about $20.00 per day." Hunter testified that she submitted her resignation "due to financial difficulties" because she did not "have the funds to get back and forth from New Jersey to New York."

The Appeal Tribunal concluded that Hunter was not qualified to receive unemployment benefits and that she was liable to repay the benefits she received:

The claimant was employed by the [New York City Board of Education] for 7 months through mid June 2008. The claimant left work because of financial difficulty attributed to the commute to work. The claimant could not afford the cost of gasoline, tolls and parking she was paying to get to work. The employer had not agreed to compensate for those expenses. She left work for that reason only.

A claim for unemployment benefits dated 7/27/08 established a weekly rate of $501.00. The claimant received benefits in the sum of $22,545.00 for the weeks ending 8/2/08 through 6/6/09.

The claimant's leaving the job due to the cost to commute to work is a personal one.

The claimant is disqualified under N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a) as of 6/15/08, as the claimant left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work.

Since the claimant received benefits to which she was not entitled, the claimant is liable for refund in the sum of $22,545.00, received as benefits for the weeks ending 8/2/08 through 6/6/09, in accordance with N.J.S.A. 43:21-16(d) and N.J.A.C. 12:17-14.2, unless the Director directs otherwise.

Hunter filed an administrative appeal, but the Board affirmed the Appeal Tribunal's decision on September 2, 2010. On appeal to this court, Hunter acknowledges that she resigned from her job due to the "costly commute." Nevertheless, she contends she was eligible to receive benefits and should not be required to refund them. We do not agree.

Our role in reviewing administrative agency decisions is limited. Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210 (1997); Campbell v. Dep't of Civil Serv., 39 N.J. 556, 562 (1963). Ordinarily, we "will reverse the decision of the administrative agency only if it is arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable or it is not supported by substantial credible ...


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