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Williams v. Board of Review

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

October 21, 2013

ROMONE WILLIAMS, Appellant,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, and DEVEREUX FOUNDATION, Respondents.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 1, 2013

On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor, Docket No. 336, 130.

Romone Williams, appellant pro se.

John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent Board of Review (Lewis A. Scheindlin, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Lisa N. Lackay, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Respondent Devereux Foundation has not filed a brief.

Before Judges Espinosa and Koblitz.

PER CURIAM

Romone Williams appeals from the January 23, 2012 final decision of the Board of Review holding him disqualified for unemployment benefits on the grounds that he left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to work based on the suspension of his driver's license, which was required to perform his job. We affirm.

Williams began working for the Devereux Foundation (Devereux) in February 2007. Devereux runs programs for developmentally disabled individuals throughout New Jersey. As a residential counselor, Williams was required to transport Devereux's clients to and from doctor's appointments, activities, day programs and vocational programs. A valid driver's license was a prerequisite to William's employment.

In July 2010 Devereux issued a revised policy and procedure manual that provided for an annual review of all employees' driving histories through a formal Motor Vehicle Review (MVR) and termination of employment for failure to pass the review. If an MVR revealed a currently suspended license or "12 Points or More[, ]" the revised policy deemed the employee to have failed the MVR. Employees were also required to report any motor vehicle offenses. The revised manual was mailed to all employees on August 10, 2010.

Devereux's March 2011 MVR revealed that Williams had a suspended license and eighteen points, although he had not reported any offenses. As a result, Williams was terminated from employment effective March 28, 2011. He appealed his initial denial of unemployment benefits to the Appeal Tribunal and a hearing was held on July 20, 2011. Two days later the Appeal Tribunal issued a decision holding Williams disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation, which was upheld by the Board.[1]

Our review of administrative agency decisions 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.

Williams argues on appeal that he may have been terminated for his poor performance, thus making him eligible for benefits. At the hearing, however, he testified under oath that he was terminated due to his loss of a valid driver's license. He also argues that he was not given thirty days to restore his license as were fellow employees. He also points out, although this is not a part of the record, that he reported his lack of license to his supervisor and never drove the clients when he did not have a valid license. Although ...


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