April 10, 2012
DEANNA M. KRUPA, APPELLANT,
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND REGIONAL DENTAL ASSOCIATES PC, RESPONDENTS.
On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 281,927.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted March 21, 2012
Before Judges Graves and J.N. Harris.
Claimant Deanna Krupa appeals from a final decision of the Board of Review (Board) affirming a determination by the Appeal Tribunal that she was disqualified for unemployment compensation benefits under N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a), because she left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work. We affirm.
Krupa was hired by Regional Dental Associates PC as a dental assistant in October 2005 and worked with Dr. Thomas Friscia and Dr. Richard Miranti. During hearings conducted by the Appeal Tribunal on July 6, 2010 and August 4, 2010, Krupa testified that on the morning of April 12, 2010, she left work after speaking with Dr. Miranti. According to Krupa, Dr. Miranti told her that Dr. Friscia was going to telephone her at 12:30 p.m. for the purpose of terminating her employment, because her husband had an argument with Dr. Friscia and "did not apologize to him." However, when Dr. Miranti testified, he denied telling Krupa that she was going to be fired. According to Dr. Miranti, Krupa "just stomped out" of the office after he told her that Dr. Friscia was going to call her to discuss her use of the company credit card for personal purchases.
In addition, Dr. Friscia testified that he wanted to speak with Krupa on April 12, 2010, regarding her misuse of the company credit card, but he did not intend to fire her because she "had a long history . . . of trust and good performance."
Dr. Friscia also testified that "Mr. Krupa [apologized] for his behavior. So that's a non-issue."
In a decision mailed on August 6, 2010, the Appeal Tribunal rejected Krupa's claim that she left her employment on the morning of April 12, 2010, because she was going to be discharged:
The employer's testimony was more credible than the claimant's. This Tribunal believes the employer because as the partner testified, he had the authority to discharge the claimant. Therefore, it does not seem reasonable that he would tell her that she would be discharged by the owner at 12:30 pm, when he could have discharged her himself at 8:00 am. It is more reasonable that she was told that she would have a meeting and in that meeting the owner was going to give her a written warning, have her surrender her keys, restrict her use of the credit card, and place her on probation because of the issues concerning the company credit card. The claimant testified that the issues with the credit card that occurred in 01/10 were resolved in the past.
However, the employer testified that they received an additional credit card statement at the end of 03/10 where there were additional purchases made from 02/10 through 03/10 that the employer needed to address.
The claimant admitted that she mistakenly used the company credit card for personal purchases. This Tribunal believes that the claimant walked off the job when she was informed about the meeting at 12:30 pm concerning further issues with her employment.
Krupa appealed to the Board, which affirmed the Appeal Tribunal's decision that Krupa was disqualified for benefits under N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a) as of April 11, 2010, for leaving her employment voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work. This appeal followed.
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.
The burden of demonstrating that the agency's action is arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable rests upon the person challenging the administrative action. McGowan v. New Jersey State Parole Bd., 347 N.J. Super. 544, 563 (App. Div. 2002); Morgan v. Bd. of Review, 77 N.J. Super. 209, 213 (App. Div. 1962) ("The burden of proof is upon the claimant to establish that her voluntary separation from her employer was for good cause attributable to such work.").
In the present matter, the Board determined that Krupa was disqualified under N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a), which provides that a claimant may not receive benefits if he or she "has left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to such work." Although the statute does not define "good cause," "courts have construed the statute to mean 'cause sufficient to justify an employee's voluntarily leaving the ranks of the employed and joining the ranks of the unemployed.'" Domenico v. Bd. of Review, 192 N.J. Super. 284, 287 (App. Div. 1983) (quoting Condo v. Bd. of Review, 158 N.J. Super. 172, 174 (App. Div. 1978)). Additionally, the Court has stated:
The test of ordinary common sense and prudence must be utilized to determine whether an employee's decision to leave work constitutes good cause. Such cause must be compelled by real, substantial and reasonable circumstances not imaginary, trifling and whimsical ones. A claimant has the responsibility to do whatever is necessary and reasonable in order to remain employed. [Brady, supra, 152 N.J. at 214 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).]
We conclude from our review of the record that there is ample evidence to support the Board's decision in this case and that the matter was correctly decided. Therefore, the decision is neither arbitrary, capricious, nor unreasonable, and we discern no basis to intervene.
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