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Doyle v. Board of Review

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

June 18, 2013



Submitted November 13, 2012

On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 316, 841.

Gloriana Doyle, appellant pro se.

Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Lewis A. Scheindlin, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Lisa N. Lackay, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Before Judges Graves and Espinosa.


Gloriana Doyle (Doyle) appeals from a final decision by the Board of Review (the Board), which upheld a decision by the Appeal Tribunal. The Appeal Tribunal determined that Doyle was disqualified for unemployment compensation benefits because she left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to her work. We affirm.

During an Appeal Tribunal hearing on February 18, 2011, Doyle testified she was employed as a Human Resource Benefits Coordinator at Holy Name Hospital from July 27, 1987, until October 13, 2009. Doyle testified she developed various medical conditions due to the stress of her job and resigned from her position, because she "couldn't take the hostile environment any longer." She acknowledged, however, that she never asked "for any accommodation or change in her work" due to her medical problems, her salary was never decreased, no one from management ever indicated to her that her job was in jeopardy, and she could have continued working at the hospital if she did not resign.

In addition, Doyle did not mention her medical problems or the work environment in her resignation letter. Instead, she stated she was resigning because she was moving to Texas. In her letter, Doyle described Holy Name Hospital as a "top medical facilit[y]" and "the best place to work."

Doyle's supervisor, Neil Kelleher, also testified. According to Kelleher, Doyle received "regular salary increases" during her employment, and she was not "treated any differently than any other employee." Kelleher said he was not surprised when Doyle submitted her letter of resignation, because she had told him her husband was retiring and they were moving to Texas.

The Appeal Tribunal determined that Doyle did not show "her working conditions were so adverse or insurmountable of resolution that she was left no alternative but to leave the job and join the ranks of the unemployed." Accordingly, the Appeal Tribunal concluded that Doyle was ineligible for unemployment benefits under N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a), because she "left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work." On September 22, 2011, the Board affirmed the Appeal Tribunal's decision.

An employee who has left work voluntarily bears the burden of establishing that he or she did so with good cause attributable to such work. Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 218 (1997). While N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a) does not define "good cause, " the statute has been construed to require more than mere dissatisfaction with working conditions:

In scrutinizing an employee's reason for leaving, the test is one of ordinary common sense and prudence. Mere dissatisfaction with working conditions which are not shown to be abnormal or do not affect health, does not constitute good cause for leaving work voluntarily. The decision to leave employment must be compelled by real, substantial and reasonable circumstances not imaginary, trifling and whimsical ones. . . . [I]t is the employee's responsibility to do what is necessary and reasonable in order to remain employed.
[Domenico v. Bd. of Review, 192 N.J.Super. 284, 288 (App. Div. 1983) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).]

Thus, an employee who quits a job without a sufficient work-related reason is disqualified from receiving benefits.

The scope of our review is limited. An administrative agency's decision is entitled to a "strong presumption of reasonableness." City of Newark v. Natural Res. Council, 82 N.J. 530, 539, cert. denied, 449 U.S. 983, 101 S.Ct. 400, 66 L.Ed.2d 245 (1980). We will not disturb an administrative agency's determinations or findings unless there is a clear showing that: (1) the agency did not follow the law; (2) the decision was arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable; or (3) the decision was not supported by substantial evidence. In re Virtua-West Jersey Hosp., 194 N.J. 413, 422 (2008). Substantial evidence is "such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." In re Pub. Serv. Elec. & Gas Co., 35 N.J. 358, 376 (1961) (quoting In re Hackensack Water Co., 41 N.J.Super. 408, 418 (App. Div. 1956)).

Guided by these principles, we conclude from our review of the record that the Board's decision to deny benefits is adequately supported by substantial credible evidence. Consequently, the decision is not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable.


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