ROCCO A. ROSETTI, Appellant, v. BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND WATERFORD TOWNSHIP, Respondents.
DOCKET NO. A–5059–11T3
-- August 30, 2013
Rocco A. Rosetti, appellant pro se.John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent Board of Review (Lewis A. Scheindlin, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Alan C. Stephens, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief). Respondent Waterford Township has not filed a brief.
Appellant Rocco Rosetti appeals from the May 15, 2012 decision of the Board of Review (Board) affirming a decision of the Appeal Tribunal that he was disqualified for unemployment compensation benefits under N.J.S.A. 43:21–5(a) because he left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work. We affirm.
Appellant was employed as a police officer by Waterford Township (Township) from September 2006 until he resigned on February 25, 2011. Appellant suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), a condition that existed prior to him becoming a police officer.
At the hearing before the Appeal Tribunal, appellant testified that, in February 2010, he was involved in what he termed an “accident” where “his skin was penetrated by a tweezers with a woman who had an illness.” Five months later, on July 20, 2010, appellant went on sick leave to seek treatment for his OCD. When that leave expired on October 15, 2010, appellant took a “family medical leave of absence,” which expired on February 8, 2011.
At that time, both appellant's personal physician and the Township's doctor declared him medically fit to return to work. Appellant resumed his full-time duties as a police officer on February 9, 2011.
After two weeks, however, appellant requested another leave. He did not submit any medical documentation in support of his request and merely stated that he did not believe he could “effectively perform all duties to the best of my abilities.” The Township denied appellant's request for a third leave of absence and, because he did not want to return to work, appellant was given the option of resigning or being discharged. Appellant decided to resign.
Appellant then filed an application for unemployment benefits, which was denied by the Director on the ground that appellant had left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work. Appellant appealed and the Appeal Tribunal affirmed the denial of benefits. The Board affirmed the Appeal Tribunal's determination.
This appeal followed. Before us, appellant contends the Board erred in finding he was disqualified for benefits pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:21–5(a). We disagree.
Our review of an administrative agency decision is limited. Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210 (1997). “ ‘[I]n reviewing the factual findings made in an unemployment compensation proceeding, the test is not whether [we] would come to the same conclusion if the original determination was [ours] to make, but rather whether the factfinder could reasonably so conclude upon the proofs.’ ” Ibid. (quoting Charatan v. Bd. of Review, 200 N.J.Super. 74, 79 (App.Div.1985)). “If the Board's factual findings are supported ‘by sufficient credible evidence, [we] are obligated to accept them.’ ” Ibid. (quoting Self v. Bd. of Review, 91 N.J. 453, 459 (1982)). Only if the Board's “action was arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable” should it be disturbed. Ibid.
An employee is disqualified for benefits:
For the week in which the individual has left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to such work, and for each week thereafter until the individual becomes re-employed and works eight weeks in employment ․ and has earned in employment at least ten times the individual's weekly benefit rate.
“When a non-work connected physical and/or mental condition makes it necessary for an individual to leave work due to an inability to perform the job, the individual shall be disqualified for benefits for voluntarily leaving work.” N.J.A.C. 12:17–9.3(b). In addition, “[w]hen an individual leaves work for health or medical reasons, medical certification shall be required to support a finding of good cause attributable to [the] work.” N.J.A.C. 12:17–9.3(d).
Here, appellant's OCD was a condition that existed prior to his employment as a police officer. Appellant provided no medical documentation stating that his condition was work-related or aggravated by his working conditions. Both appellant's physician and the Township's doctor cleared appellant to return to work full-time. After two weeks, however, appellant told the Township he believed he could no longer “effectively perform” his duties and he resigned from his job.
Applying our highly deferential standard of review, we find no basis to interfere with the Board's decision that, under these circumstances, appellant was ineligible for unemployment benefits because he left work voluntarily, without any medical documentation to support his request for additional leave and, therefore, without good cause attributable to the work. The Board's determination was supported by substantial, credible evidence, and we find no reason to disturb it.