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Edwin Galindez v. Board of Review

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


January 11, 2012

EDWIN GALINDEZ, APPELLANT,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, AND SDH EDUCATION EAST, LLC, RESPONDENTS.

On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 286,603.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted September 28, 2011

Before Judges Fuentes and Graves.

Claimant Edwin Galindez (Galindez) appeals from an adverse determination of the Board of Review (Board). The Board affirmed a decision by the Appeal Tribunal, which determined that Galindez was disqualified for unemployment benefits from May 23, 2010, through July 3, 2010, because he was not "actively seeking work" during that period as required by N.J.S.A. 43:21- 4(c)(1). We affirm.

The relevant facts regarding Galindez's employment were developed during the Appeal Tribunal hearing on July 10, 2010. Galindez testified that during the school year, he is employed on a full-time basis as a supervisor for the food service department of William Paterson College. According to Galindez he was laid off on May 10, 2010, because there was no work available during the summer recess. He expected to return to work at the college in September. Galindez also testified as follows:*fn1

EXAMINER: Okay. So, let me just go over my notes with you to make sure I'm on the same page. It's my understanding that your last full-time position was with William Paterson College. You worked full-time as a Nighttime Supervisor for the food service department. You began January, 2009. Your last day of work was May 15, 2010. You expect to return to work for this college the first week in September, 2010?

CLAIMANT: That is correct.

EXAMINER: Okay. Have you contacted any new employers since May 22nd?

CLAIMANT: No. I've searched, you know, with family members and stuff like that, to see if they had any . . . anything going on, but, you know, none of them have anything going on. I have family members that are in different businesses. At the YMCA, I have personally, if there was any work available to members that I know . . . verbally, you know, and none of them have anything available, everybody's going through a crunch.

EXAMINER: Okay. So, your job search has consisted of asking family and friends?

CLAIMANT: That is correct.

In a decision mailed on July 12, 2010, the Appeal Tribunal denied Galindez's claim for benefits from May 23, 2010, through July 3, 2010, because he was not "actively seeking work." On September 4, 2010, the Board affirmed the decision of the Appeal Tribunal. The Board's findings included the following:

We agree with the Opinion of the Appeal Tribunal for the reasons set forth therein. Additionally, upon appeal to the Board of Review, the claimant submitted copies of business cards purporting to be job contacts made during the period in question. The claimant's contention, that he was actively seeking work, is in direct conflict with his own sworn testimony given during the Appeal Tribunal hearing on July 10, 2010, and is rejected as not credible.

The scope of our review is limited. Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210 (1997) (citing Pub. Serv. Elec. v. N.J. Dep't of Envtl. Prot., 101 N.J. 95, 103 (1985)). "A strong presumption of reasonableness accompanies an administrative agency's exercise of statutorily-delegated responsibility." Gloucester Cnty. Welfare Bd. v. State Civil Serv. Comm'n, 93 N.J. 384, 390 (1983). If the Board's factual findings "are supported by sufficient credible evidence, [we] are obliged to accept them." Self v. Bd. of Review, 91 N.J. 453, 459 (1982). Unless the agency's decision is "arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable, the agency's ruling should not be disturbed." Brady, supra, 152 N.J. at 210 (citing In re Warren, 117 N.J. 295, 296 (1989)).

Under the arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable standard, our review is generally limited to: (1) whether the agency's decision conforms with the law; (2) whether there is substantial credible evidence in the record to support the agency's findings; and (3) whether in applying the law to the facts, the administrative agency clearly erred in reaching its conclusion. In re Anthony Stallworth, 208 N.J. 182, 194 (2011). We will not substitute our own judgment for the agency's even though we might have reached a different conclusion. Ibid. "Claimants bear the burden of proof to establish their right to unemployment benefits." Brady, supra, 152 N.J. at 218; Zielenski v. Bd. of Review, 85 N.J. Super. 46, 51 (App. Div. 1964). Generally, a claimant is eligible to receive benefits if he or she "is able to work, and is available to work, and has demonstrated to be actively seeking work." N.J.S.A. 43:21- 4(c)(1). To qualify for benefits, a claimant must make more than "minimal efforts to find employment." Worsnop v. Bd. of Review, 92 N.J. Super. 260, 265 (App. Div. 1966). A claimant "must make a sincere effort to obtain employment either in his usual type of work or in such other suitable work as he may be able to do." Ibid.

In the present matter, the Board determined that Galindez failed to make a good-faith effort to find employment and that decision is amply supported by the record. Consequently, we discern no basis to intervene.

Affirmed.


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