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John P. Walter v. Board of Review

September 21, 2011

JOHN P. WALTER, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, AND WAWA INC., RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Docket No. 267,426.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 13, 2011

Before Judges Simonelli and Hayden.

Appellant appeals from the final decision of the Board of Review (Board) disqualifying him from receipt of unemployment compensation after he left his employment at Wawa, Inc. (Wawa).

The Board held that appellant voluntarily left his job without good cause attributable to the work. We affirm.

In July 2003, appellant began his employment with Wawa as an Assistant Manager. He was promoted to General Manager in May 2007.

In a mid-year evaluation in 2009, the Area Manager, Michael Dwyer, advised appellant that there were areas of appellant's work performance that required improvement or else "change would have [to be] made A.S.A.P." Appellant was aware that a demotion was possible if his work performance did not improve.

On December 14, 2009, Dwyer informed appellant that he would be demoted to Assistant Manager due to poor performance. Dwyer scheduled a follow-up meeting for December 16, 2009, to discuss the details of the demotion; however, appellant resigned before that discussion occurred. Appellant would have resigned regardless of whether he earned his current salary in the new position because he believed the demotion was unfair and personal.*fn1

Appellant did not discuss any concerns about his job performance with upper management or the Human Resources Department prior to his resignation. He knew he could file a request for conflict resolution with the Human Resources Department, but chose not to do so.

The Appeal Tribunal found that appellant failed to: (1) establish that the employer's assessment of his job performance was incorrect or that he was being singled out for an unwarranted demotion; (2) exhaust all opportunities to rectify the situation before resigning; and (3) establish that the working conditions were so severe as to cause him to quit his job. The Appeal Tribunal concluded that appellant was disqualified for benefits as of December 13, 2009, because he left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work in accordance with N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a). The Board accepted these findings. This appeal followed.

Our review of an administrative agency decision is limited. Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210 (1997). "'[I]n reviewing the factual findings made in an unemployment compensation proceeding, the test is not whether [we] would come to the same conclusion if the original determination was [ours] to make, but rather whether the factfinder could reasonably so conclude upon the proofs.'" Ibid. (quoting Charatan v. Bd. of Review, 200 N.J. Super. 74, 79 (App. Div. 1985)). "If the Board's factual findings are supported 'by sufficient credible evidence, [we] are obliged to accept them.'" Ibid. (quoting Self v. Bd. of Review, 91 N.J. 453, 459 (1982)). We also give due regard to the agency's credibility findings. Logan v. Bd. of Review, 299 N.J. Super. 346, 348 (App. Div. 1997). "Unless . . . the agency's action was arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable, the agency's ruling should not be disturbed." Brady, supra, 152 N.J. at 210.

An employee is disqualified for benefits:

For 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*fn2 ...

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