October 21, 2011
SHIRLEY A. MCGRIFF, APPELLANT,
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND NATIONWIDE PARKING & VALET,LLC, RESPONDENTS.
On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Docket No. 257,126.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 26, 2011
Before Judges A. A. Rodriguez and Sabatino.
Claimant, Shirley A. McGriff, appeals the Board of Review's (the Board's) final agency decision of August 3, 2010, in which the Board dismissed as untimely her attempt to overturn the Appeal Tribunal's denial of her claim for unemployment benefits.
The relevant facts and circumstances are as follows. Claimant was employed by Nationwide Parking & Valet, LLC, in Shrewsbury. According to claimant, she left her job in order to care for a sick relative in Florida. However, there is no indication in the record supplied to us that claimant invoked or followed the procedures under the Family Leave Act, N.J.S.A. 34:11B-1 to -16.
After leaving her job, claimant sought extended unemployment benefits. A deputy examiner rejected the claim, determining that she had left her job for personal reasons and was therefore ineligible for benefits. The deputy examiner further concluded that claimant did not satisfy the employment requirements of N.J.S.A. 43:21-24.19.
The dispute was heard in a telephonic hearing before the Appeal Tribunal on January 16, 2010. On January 21, 2010, the Appeal Tribunal issued a decision finding claimant ineligible for benefits. That same day, the Appeal Tribunal mailed its decision to claimant, along with instructions on how to file an administrative appeal with the Board. The instructions make clear that such an administrative appeal must be filed with the Board within ten days of the date of mailing of the Appeal Tribunal decision.
On February 10, 2010, twenty days after the Appeal Tribunal's decision was mailed, claimant transmitted an administrative appeal to the Board. The Board subsequently dismissed claimant's appeal as untimely. Claimant now seeks to reverse the Board's determination.
During the time frame relevant to this appeal,*fn1 N.J.S.A. 43:21-6(c) specified that the Appeal Tribunal's decision "shall be deemed to be the final decision of the [B]oard of [R]review, unless within 10 days after the date of notification or mailing of such decision, further appeal is initiated pursuant to [N.J.S.A. 43:21-6(e).]" See also Lowden v. Bd. of Review, 78 N.J. Super. 467, 468-70 (App. Div. 1963) (strictly enforcing the ten-day filing requirement). This prompt deadline is consonant with the high volume of unemployment cases processed by the agency, and the need to complete those cases expeditiously.
The record indicates that claimant failed to abide by the statutory ten-day deadline, as her administrative appeal needed to be filed with the Board within ten days of January 21, 2010.
Instead, she transmitted it on the twentieth day, February 10, and the Board did not receive it until February 16. Although a pertinent regulation, N.J.A.C. 12:20-4.1(h), allows the ten-day deadline to be extended in limited situations upon a demonstration of good cause, claimant has made no such demonstration here. In fact, claimant offered the agency no explanation for her delay in filing an appeal, and the record is now closed. Under the circumstances, we must affirm the Board's decision, affording it the deference it is owed as an administrative agency on matters within its purview. See, e.g., Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210 (1997); Doering v. Bd. of Review, 203 N.J. Super. 241, 245 (App. Div. 1985).
Apart from this jurisdictional defect arising out of claimant's untimeliness, we further note that she has not disproven the Appeal Tribunal's finding that she is ineligible for benefits under N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a), because she left her job voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work. See also N.J.A.C. 12:17-9.1. Good cause in this context "means a reason related directly to the individual's employment, which was so compelling as to give the individual no choice but to leave the employment." N.J.A.C. 12:17-9.1(b). Causes personal to a claimant that are not shown to be attributable to the work itself do not satisfy the statutory requirement. White v. Bd. of Review, 146 N.J. Super. 268, 270 (App. Div. 1977); Stauhs v. Bd. of Review, 93 N.J. Super. 451, 457-58 (App. Div. 1967). Although we appreciate that claimant stopped working to attend to a sick relative out of state, that personal reason for her departure, however admirable it may be, does not entitle her to unemployment benefits. Hence, even if claimant had filed a timely administrative appeal, it would have been deficient on its merits.