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Claire N. Gilligan v. Board of Review

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


July 5, 2011

CLAIRE N. GILLIGAN, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND ZIP SYSTEMS INC., RESPONDENTS.

On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 229,249.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted February 16, 2011 - Decided

Before Judges Fuentes and Gilroy.

Claire N. Gilligan appeals from the denial of her application for unemployment compensation benefits. We affirm.

Appellant worked as a collections representative for Zip Systems, Inc., from September 16, 2008, through January 30, 2009, when she resigned. By appellant's own account, on the day she resigned, the president of Zip Systems met with her and informed her that "if [her] current status of what [she] was doing continued, he would not be able to keep [her]."*fn1 The president was also critical of the way appellant treated a customer. According to appellant, she felt "threatened" and "upset" by these remarks.

The office manager, Debbie, was also present at the meeting between appellant and the president of Zip Systems. Appellant testified that after the meeting, she and Debbie spoke about the situation in the office they both shared. Although Debbie never told her directly, appellant inferred from the general tenor of the conversation that she would be terminated. In the words of appellant: "I took it as I was being fired." Appellant did not confirm her suspicion with Debbie. Nevertheless, when asked why she left her work, appellant answered: "Because [Debbie] told me to go." When asked to clarify, appellant testified that Debbie told her: "[I]f that's how you feel, you can go."

Debbie documented her recollection in her computer to memorialize what occurred at the meeting between herself, the president of the company, and appellant. This document was admitted into evidence. According to Debbie's account of events, appellant "picked up her belongings and . . . left" after threatening that she "would go to higher places."

Against this record, the Appeals Tribunal found appellant had voluntarily resigned from her position at Zip Systems for personal reasons unrelated to the work. She was thus disqualified to receive unemployment compensation benefits pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a). The Tribunal found the employer's version of events more credible, and found appellant's version internally inconsistent. The Board adopted the Tribunal's findings and affirmed its decision denying appellant's application for unemployment compensation benefits.

Our capacity to review decisions of an administrative agency is limited. Shuster v. Bd. of Review, 396 N.J. Super. 240, 245 (App. Div. 2007) (citing State-Operated Sch. Dist. v. Gaines, 309 N.J. Super. 327, 331 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 156 N.J. 381 (1998)). As long as "substantial credible evidence supports an agency's conclusion, a court may not substitute its own judgment for the agency's even though the court might have reached a different result." Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210 (1997) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The agency's determination should only be reversed if it is "arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable or it is not supported by substantial credible evidence in the record as a whole." Shuster, supra, 396 N.J. Super. at 246 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).

Appellant argues that she did not resign from her job, but rather that Debbie fired her when she said to appellant: "you can go." Mindful of our standard of review, we reject this argument and affirm. The Board's decision rejecting appellant's characterization of the reasons triggering her decision to leave her job is supported by competent evidence in the record. We are thus bound to uphold it. Appellant is not qualified to receive unemployment compensation benefits pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a).

Affirmed.


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