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NEW JERSEY UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS LAW UPDATE – SEPTEMBER, 2011

The New Jersey Appellate Division recently affirmed three (3) final decisions of the Board of Review disqualifying the claimants in these cases from receiving unemployment benefits.

In the matter of Walter v. Board of Review, the Board of Review disqualified the claimant, John P. Walter, from receiving unemployment benefits finding that he voluntarily left his job without good cause attributable to the work. Mr. Walter began his employment with Wawa as an Assistant Manager in July, 2003 and was promoted to the position of General Manager in May, 2007. As a result of his mid-year evaluation in 2009, Mr. Walter was told that his work performance required improvement or he could face a possible demotion. According to Wawa, Mr. Walter’s work performance did not improve and on December 14, 2009, he was advised that he would be demoted to Assistant Manager. As a result of the demotion, Mr. Walter resigned his employment because he believed the demotion was unfair and personal. In upholding the Board of Review’s determination disqualifying Mr. Walter from receiving unemployment benefits, the Appellate Division held that there was substantial credible evidence that Mr. Walter left work without good cause attributable to the work.

In the matter of Prosceno v. Board of Review, the Appellate Division affirmed the Board of Review’s determination disqualifying the claimant, Carol Prosceno, from receiving unemployment benefits by finding that she left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work. In this case, Ms. Prosceno worked as a sales and cash register clerk for Shop-Rite supermarket in Cape May County from August, 2007 through September, 2008. On September 5, 2008, Ms. Prosceno underwent lung surgery, which she anticipated would put her out on disability for two or three months. She was then in a car accident in October, 2008, sustaining injures to her head, back, neck and ribs. On December 15, 2008, her lung surgeon determined that she had recovered from the surgery. Ms. Prosceno, however, stated that because she did not have medical insurance, she could not find a doctor in New Jersey to treat the injuries she sustained from the car accident. As a result, she moved to South Carolina, where she was able to receive medical treatment for her injuries and obtain living accommodations. Her doctor in South Carolina cleared her to return to work on August 19, 2009. At that time, she was advised by Shop-Rite that her position was no longer available for her. The Appellate Division upheld the Board of Review’s determination finding that the claimant’s decision to move to South Carolina was for personal financial and medical reasons that were not attributable to her work at Shop-Rite and therefore was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.

In the matter of Messick v. Board of Review, the Appellate Division upheld the Board of Review’s decision that the claimant, Judith Messick, left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work. Ms. Messick was employed as a nurse with A Best Management, Inc., SP AC until she resigned from her employment on December 2, 2008. Ms. Messick’s unemployment appeal arose from an incident that took place in a health care facility where she was a charged nurse. Ms. Messick alleged that on October 29, 2008, she was kicked in her back by the assistant director of nursing while administering medications from her medical cart. Ms. Messick claimed that, as a result of the kick, she fell into her cart and sustained a large bruise on her right thigh. The following day, Ms. Messick went to the emergency room and then took a five-week medical leave as a result of her injuries. When she returned to work on December 2, 2008, Ms. Messick contended that she was denied her request for light-duty, and as a result, was in serious pain by the end of the work day. Ms. Messick further alleged that on the same day the employee who she accused of kicking her, made an obscene gesture to her and warned her that she “going to get [her] license.” As a result of the treatment, Ms. Messick resigned from her position. The Appellate Division reviewed the entire record and held that the findings made and conclusions reached by the Board of Review were supported by substantial credible evidence in the record. As a result, the Appellate Division affirmed the Board of Review’s decision.

These recently reported cases remind us of the heavy burden that a claimant who voluntarily quits his or her job will have when making their application for unemployment benefits.