Misreading the Hearing Date Notice is Not Good Cause for Appeal of Unemployment Benefits

The Appellate Division has denied an individual from proceeding with her unemployment appeal as a result of failing to appear for the scheduled Appeal Hearing.  In the matter of Boone v. Board of Review, Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and LSA Ventures, LLC, Respondents- No. A-2286-16T3, decided April 9, 2018, the claimant realized the day after the scheduled appeal hearing date, that she had misread the date of the hearing which had been scheduled for the previous day.  After the claimant was unable to obtain a rescheduled date from the Department of Labor, she appealed the decision requesting that she be provided the right to a new hearing as a result of her non-appearance.

The claimant, Sharon Boone, originally filed for unemployment benefits in September 2016.  At this first stage of the unemployment benefits process, Ms. Boone was found ineligible for benefits by the Deputy Director because she left her job voluntarily due to dissatisfaction with her working conditions.   Ms. Boone then appealed her original determination disqualifying her from receiving unemployment benefits and received notice on October 26, 2017 that a telephonic hearing would take place before the Appeal Tribunal, which is the next level in challenging a finding of ineligibility for unemployment benefits. The notice informed Ms. Boone that the hearing would take place on November 14, 2016, at 10:30 a.m. The notice also informed Ms. Boone in upper-case print that she was required to call the Appeals Office 15-30 minutes before the scheduled hearing to register for the hearing.   The notice also indicated that the appeal may be dismissed or that the claimant could be denied participation in the appeal if “you fail, without good cause, to follow these instructions.”

Unfortunately for Ms. Boone, she did not call the Appeals office on the appointed date and time and therefore, the hearing did not take place. The Appeals Tribunal found therefore, that because Ms. Boone had failed to participate in the telephonic hearing, her appeal was dismissed.  On November 15, Ms. Boone subsequently faxed a letter indicating that she had confused the dates and thought her appeal was to take place “today.”  She requested a new hearing date, but the Tribunal declined to reopen the decision.

The fact that Ms. Boone had innocently gotten the date wrong was not enough for the Tribunal to find that this was a good reason or good cause for Ms. Boone to have missed her hearing.

The Appellate Division affirmed the Tribunal’s decision finding that the claimant did not show good cause for missing the scheduled hearing.  The Appellate Division specifically found that the Appeal Tribunal had not acted arbitrarily or unreasonably because the instructions on the Tribunal’s letter to Ms. Boone were straightforward and clear.

Ms. Boone’s experience should serve as a lesson to those who are appealing a denial of unemployment benefits to read all written notices from the Department of Labor very carefully and act in accordance with their instructions.  If you have any questions or would like legal representation in connection with your claim for unemployment benefits, please call one of our office’s unemployment attorneys to discuss the facts and circumstances of your claim for unemployment benefits.