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Garzon v. Board of Review, Department of Labor

A-3294-02T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2004) (Unpublished)

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS; APPEALS—The Unemployment Board of Review is required to give a claimant clear notice as to what constitutes “good cause” for filing a late claim appeal.

A former employee applied for unemployment benefits. The Department of Labor’s Board of Review determined that she was not entitled to benefits. Its written letter to her that accompanied the decision told her that she had ten days within which to appeal the decision. The decision stated that if the appeal was filed after the ten day period, the time to appeal might be extended if she could demonstrate good cause. The employee filed an appeal four days past the deadline. The Board responded that her appeal had not been timely filed, and advised her to complete a certification form The notice also stated that if she failed to return the certification, her appeal would be heard based on the information already on file. The certification form did not explain that it was for the purpose of eliciting the claimant’s “good cause” for late filing of her appeal. The employee completed the certification and the Board denied her appeal. The Appellate Division reversed, finding that the right to unemployment benefits was a protected property right. In order to deny unemployment benefits, the Board of Review is required to give a claimant notice and an opportunity to be heard. The Court held the notice letter to be insufficient because it did not properly advise the employee of what kind of situations constituted “good cause” for the purposes of extending the appeal filing deadline. The sample certification did not give any examples. In addition, the Board’s notice letter was confusing in that it stated that if the applicant did not complete the certification, the appeal would be heard based on the information available. According to the Court, this made it seem that her appeal would be heard on the merits, when in fact, it was only an administrative review that would be made.

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