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Line v. Board of Review

A-4033-09T3 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2011) (Unpublished)

UNEMPLOYMENT — Where an ex-employee provides no reason for leaving work other than reduction in his or her hours of employment and the employee had previously been told to be patient with the implication that coming company changes to the company would be of benefit, the ex-employee is not entitled to unemployment benefits.

A worker was employed full time at a hospital, earning $20 per hour as a creative facilitator. Three weeks before leaving her employment there, her hours were reduced from 37.5 to 30 per week. Her employer advised her even though the position would no longer be full time, she should be patient and wait for future changes. She was not told how long the reduction in hours would be in effect. She ultimately left the position to seek full-time work.

She filed a claim for unemployment benefits, and was initially held to be disqualified because she left her job voluntarily. Ultimately, the decision was affirmed by the Department of Labor’s Board of Review, which concluded that the worker simply did not have good cause for leaving work and was therefore disqualified from benefits.

The worker appealed, arguing her separation from employment was indeed for good cause. The Appellate Division held that so long as the Board’s decision was supported by sufficient credible evidence in the record, and was not arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable, it would be affirmed. It also held that New Jersey law provides that an individual who leaves work voluntarily without good cause attributable to such work will be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits.

The Court stated that the woman had provided no reason for leaving work other than the reduction in her hours of employment. In this context, such a reason was found to be insufficient as the worker was told to be patient, implying future changes would be beneficial to her. Further, she did not obtain any further indication from her employer of her future status. Because the worker failed to meet the burden of proof that her departure was for good cause, the Court affirmed the Board’s decision, finding the decision was supported by sufficient credible evidence and was not arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable.

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