Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Willis v. Administrator Unemployment Compensation

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Tolland, Rockville

August 11, 2015

Joe Willis
v.
Administrator Unemployment Compensation et al

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

Susan Quinn Cobb, J.

This is an unemployment compensation appeal initiated by the petitioner, Joe Willis, who appeals from the decision of the Employment Security Appeals Division Board of Review (Board) affirming the Referee's determination that the petitioner was ineligible to receive unemployment benefits. For the reasons stated below, the court affirms the decision of the Board and dismisses the petitioner's appeal.

FACTS

The following facts found by the Board and procedural history are relevant to this appeal. The petitioner was employed as a full-time security officer with the Hartford Board of Education, from September 2008 until his voluntary resignation on November 1, 2014. On November 13, 2014, the Administrator of the Unemployment Compensation Act found that the petitioner was ineligible for unemployment benefits after a hearing that was attended by only the petitioner. In particular, the Administrator found that the petitioner had voluntarily resigned without good cause attributable to the employer. The petitioner appealed the decision of the Administrator to the Appeals Referee on December 1, 2014.

After a hearing on December 29, 2014, which was again attended by only the petitioner, the Referee affirmed the Administrator's decision. At the hearing, the petitioner argued in essence that he was eligible for benefits because he was constructively discharged. He testified that the employer had suspended him as a result of a disciplinary hearing, which he did not attend, and subsequently was presented with the option of resigning in lieu of being formally discharged. The Referee determined this testimony was not credible because the petitioner had initially testified before the Administrator that he had voluntarily left his employment because he wanted to find employment in a managerial position. Moreover, the petitioner did not submit any evidence to support this contention and the Referee determined the testimony was self-serving and lacked credibility. On this basis, the Referee concluded the petitioner had voluntarily resigned without good cause attributable to the employer and was therefore ineligible for benefits.

The petitioner appealed the Referee's decision to the Board of Review, which affirmed the Referee's decision on February 6, 2015. On his appeal before the Board, the petitioner sought to supplement the record with a " Separation Agreement and Release" he entered into with the employer. Although this documentary evidence had been available prior to the earlier proceedings, the petitioner had not previously attempted to submit this evidence. The Board declined to accept this evidence into the record, noting that it was not truly new evidence as it had been available and in the petitioner's possession prior to the Referee's hearing on December 29, 2014. After reviewing the record, the Board determined that the Referee's credibility determination could not be disturbed because it was supported by the record and the Referee had not assigned inappropriate weight to the evidence or failed to consider critical evidence in making the determination. Therefore, the Board concluded the record supported the credibility determination and it is entitled to deference. On this basis, the Board adopted the Referee's findings of fact and decision, and dismissed the appeal.

The petitioner appealed the Board's decision to this court on March 27, 2015. The petitioner did not file a motion to correct the record prior to bringing this appeal. On April 28, 2015, the Administrator of Unemployment Compensation filed a motion to dismiss on the ground that the Board's decision is reasonable and not arbitrary or illegal because the record supports its conclusion. The petitioner did not respond to this motion.

DISCUSSION

" A trial court's review of the findings of the board is circumscribed. To the extent that an administrative appeal, pursuant to General Statutes § 31-249b, concerns findings of fact, a court is limited to a review of the record certified and filed by the board of review. The court must not retry the facts nor hear evidence . . . [The court] cannot review the conclusions of the board when these depend upon the weight of the evidence and the credibility of witnesses." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Lantieri v. Adm'r, 136 Conn.App. 174, 182, 43 A.3d 815 (2012). If a claimant wishes to challenge the factual findings of the Board, he or she must file a motion to correct the findings within two weeks of the record being filed with the Superior Court. See Belica v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act, 126 Conn.App. 779, 785-87, 12 A.3d 1067 (2011); Practice Book § 22-4. In the absence of such a motion, the findings of the board are binding on the court; Belica v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act, supra, 785-87; and review is limited to " whether the administrative action resulted from an incorrect application of the law to the facts found or could not reasonably or logically have followed from such facts." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Manukyan v. Adm'r, 139 Conn.App. 26, 34, 54 A.3d 602 (2012). This inquiry is a review of the administrative action to determine whether it was unreasonable, arbitrary, and illegal or an abuse of discretion. Id.

In the present appeal, the petitioner did not file a motion to correct the findings of the Board. Therefore, the factual findings of the Board are binding on this court and this review is limited to the Board's application of the law concerning voluntary resignations to the factual findings made in the lower proceedings.[1]

General Statutes § 31-236(a)(2)(A) provides, in relevant part, that an individual is ineligible for benefits if he " left suitable work voluntarily and without good cause attributable to the employer . . . including leaving as a result of changes in conditions created by the individual's employer." Corresponding regulations, section 31-236-19 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies, specify that " [i]n determining whether an individual's reason for leaving suitable work is for good cause attributable to the employer, the Administrator must find that the reason relates to wages, hours or working conditions which comprise the employment that the individual voluntarily left." " An individual leaves suitable work for cause within the meaning of the statute, when he leaves employment for reasons which would impel the ordinary reasonable person to leave and which provide the individual with no reasonable alternative but to terminate his employment . . . As a matter of law, therefore, a claimant must show that his basis for leaving employment is objectively reasonable and that no reasonable alternative to termination exists." (Citation omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Acro Technology, Inc. v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act, 25 Conn.App. 130, 135, 593 A.2d 154 (1991).

The court has reviewed the record and finds that it cannot conclude that the Board acted unreasonably, arbitrarily, illegally or in abuse of its discretion in determining that the petitioner voluntarily terminated his employment without good cause attributed to his employer and was therefore not entitled to unemployment benefits. The record shows that the petitioner chose to quit his job as a security officer with the Hartford Board of Education because he no longer wished to work as a security officer. His decision was motivated by a desire to obtain employment either in another field of work or in a managerial position. Finally, the record does not show that the petitioner offered any evidence or testimony that there was a problem with his wages, hours, or working conditions that would impel the ordinary reasonable person to leave the job and which provided no reasonable alternative than voluntarily terminating the employment. Based on this record, the Board correctly applied the law to these facts and did not act in an unreasonable, arbitrary, or illegal manner, or otherwise abuse its discretion. This record supports the Board's decision.

ORDER

For the foregoing reasons, the Court affirms the decision of the Board and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.