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Conoscienti v. Board of Review

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

December 19, 2013

CHRISTOPHER CONOSCIENTI, Appellant,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND BRICKFORCE TRANSPORTATION, INCORPORATED, Respondents

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 16, 2013

On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Docket No. 330, 285.

Christopher Conoscienti, appellant pro se.

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

Before Judges Sabatino and Hayden.

PER CURIAM

Christopher Conoscienti appeals from a January 23, 2012 final agency decision of the Board of Review (the Board), which affirmed the July 5, 2011 decision of the Appeal Tribunal (the Tribunal) finding that Conoscienti was disqualified from unemployment compensation benefits pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a) because he left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to his employment. The Tribunal also held Conoscienti liable for a refund of $2048 in benefits he had already received in accordance with N.J.S.A. 43:21-16(d) and N.J.A.C. 12:17-14.2. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we affirm.

Brickforce Transportation, Inc. (Brickforce) employed Conoscienti as a temporary warehouse worker from June 11, 2009, through August 23, 2010. Conoscienti signed an agreement with Brickforce on June 9, 2009, agreeing to employment in general warehouse or clerical positions. The agreement specified that if an assignment was terminated for any reason, Conoscienti was to report to the Brickforce office within forty-eight hours for a reassignment. If Conoscienti failed to report for a reassignment after termination of an assignment, the agreement stated that he would be deemed to have voluntarily abandoned his employment and resigned from Brickforce with no right to unemployment benefits.[1]

Conoscienti worked at various locations through Brickforce. His last assignment was with Vital Signs, where he worked for approximately three weeks. On August 23, 2010, Conoscienti was informed by Edgar Varela, the on-site supervisor for Brickforce, that he was being laid off from his assignment with Vital Signs due to a shortage of work and that he should return to the Brickforce office for a new assignment.

According to Diana Ramos, the dispatcher for Brickforce, Conoscienti never returned to the Brickforce office for reassignment after he was laid off from Vital Signs. Additionally, Conoscienti never signed the "no work available" log. Ramos stated that the log was always left on the counter in the waiting room for employees to sign and after all of the positions were filled for the day, she would make an announcement reminding the employees to sign the log. Conoscienti admitted signing the log on prior occasions. According to Ramos, after August 23, 2010, the next contact she had with Conoscienti occurred on December 21, 2010, when he visited the office to tell her that he obtained construction employment elsewhere.

Conoscienti claimed that he went to the Brickforce office every day for seven days straight after he was laid off. He stated that Ramos never enforced the "no work available" log requirement and that he did not sign the log because Ramos did not make it available for employees to sign. He also alleged that Ramos told him that no work was available for him because the only openings at that time were for women.

Conoscienti filed a claim for unemployment benefits, which established a weekly benefit rate of $128. He received benefits from the week ending December 4, 2010, through March 19, 2011, for a total of $2048. He then received a notice, dated April 10, 2011, that he must refund the benefits because he had left work without good cause related to work.

Conoscienti immediately appealed. The Tribunal heard the appeal on May 26, 2011, and June 22, 2011, at which Conoscienti, Ramos, Varela, and ...


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