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Miller v. Administrator Unemployment Compensation Act

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of New Haven, New Haven

July 5, 2017

Michele A. Miller
v.
Administrator Unemployment Compensation Act

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

          Salvatore C. Agati, J.

         This is an appeal from the Employment Security Board of Review. The Administrator granted the plaintiff's initial application for benefits. The employer appealed the decision of the Administrator. An Appeals Referee then conducted a de novo hearing, made findings of fact and reversed the decision of the Administrator, and held that the plaintiff voluntarily left suitable employment without good cause attributable to the employer. As a result, the plaintiff was disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation benefits pursuant to General Statutes § 31-236(a)(2)(A). The plaintiff then appealed that decision to the Board of Review, and it rendered a decision adopting the referee's findings of fact and affirmed the referee's decision.

          " The power of the trial court in appeals of this kind is very limited: 'the Superior Court does not try the matter de novo; it is not its function to adjudicate questions of fact, nor may it substitute its own conclusions for those of the [Appeals Referee or] board . . .' Johnson v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act, 3 Conn.App. 264, 267, 487 A.2d 565 (1985). Its function is to determine only if the board acted rationally and logically or illegally and in abuse of its discretion." Kaplan v. Administrator, 4 Conn.App. 152, 153, 493 A.2d 248 (1985). " 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." Latina v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act, 54 Conn.App. 154, 159, 733 A.2d 885 (1999). The plaintiff in the case at bar did file a motion to correct ten (10) of the board's factual findings per Practice Book § 22-4. On August 26, 2016, the Board of Review filed its decision in which it denied each of the plaintiff's ten (10) reasons to correct the Board's prior decision. The ruling on the motion affirmed the Board's prior decision. As a result, this " prevents further review of [the] facts found by the board." JSF Promotions, Inc. v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act, 265 Conn. 413, 422-23, 828 A.2d 609 (2003); Belica v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act, 126 Conn.App. 779, 786-87, 12 A.3d 1067 (2011).

          " [R]eview of an administrative agency decision requires a court to determine whether there is substantial evidence in the administrative record to support the agency's findings of basic fact and whether the conclusions drawn from those facts are reasonable . . . Neither this court nor the trial court may retry the case or substitute its own judgment for that of the administrative agency on the weight of the evidence or questions of fact . . . Our ultimate duty is to determine, in view of all of the evidence, whether the agency, in issuing its order, acted unreasonably, arbitrarily, illegally or in abuse of its discretion." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) JSF Promotions, Inc. v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act, 265 Conn. 413, 417, 828 A.2d 609 (2003).

          " 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." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Mattatuck Museum-Mattatuck Historical Society v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act, 238 Conn. 273, 276, 679 A.2d 347 (1996). See also Practice Book § 22-9. " [A]n agency's factual and discretionary determinations are to be accorded considerable weight by the courts." (Internal quotation marks omitted.) JSF Promotions, Inc. v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act, supra, 265 Conn. 417-18.

          General Statutes § 31-236(a)(2)(A) provides that an individual shall be ineligible for benefits " [i]f, in the opinion of the administrator, the individual has left suitable work and without good cause attributable to the employer . . ." In the case at bar, the Appeals Referee found that the plaintiff:

2. On August 8, 2014, the claimant quit the job effective August 11, 2014. She left a letter for Ruth Lukowski, office manager. She wrote that her terms of employment as a full-time dental assistant for Dr. Lukowski were eliminated permanently due to his sudden death on July 3, 2014. She also wrote that she had to resign due to lack of work. She was dissatisfied with having to do more reception and billing duties . . .
8. On August 9, 2014, the claimant e-mailed Ruth Lukowski telling her that she was resigning from the job and left her a resignation letter.
9. The claimant never discussed any dissatisfactions that she had with the job prior to leaving with Ruth Lukowski. If she had, Ruth Lukowski would have addressed her complaints and any dissatisfactions to avoid having her quit the job.

(Record, at 72.)

         The Board affirmed these findings in its decision:

The claimant quit the job without notice on August 8, 2014, effective August 11, 2014. She was dissatisfied with having to do more reception and billing work after Dr. Lukowski passed away on July 3, 2014. The claimant considered herself laid off due to lack of work since she was hired to be Dr. Lukowski's assistant. However, the claimant failed to seek a remedy to her dissatisfactions before leaving. If she had, Ruth Lukowski, testify she would address her concerns to avoid leaving the job. Therefore, even if the claimant failed to seek a remedy to her dissatisfactions before leaving the job. Therefore, even if the claimant had a valid complaint regarding her work assignment or conditions, the failure to seek alternatives prior to leaving precludes a finding of good cause attributable to the employer. Under these circumstances, the referee concludes that the claimant left suitable employment voluntarily and without good cause attributable to the employer.

(Record, at 73.)

         Based upon the foregoing record and findings of fact, the board ruled that the plaintiff voluntarily left suitable work ...


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