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STENSON v. NEW YORK

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK


November 1, 1976

Veronica STENSON et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
STATE OF NEW YORK et al., Defendants

Edward Weinfeld, District Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEINFELD

EDWARD WEINFELD, District Judge.

This suit under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C., section 1981 et seq., is brought by residents of New Jersey against the State of New York, the Unemployment Insurance Division of the New York State Department of Labor, and the Director of the Unemployment Insurance Division. The plaintiffs were formerly employed in New York. After they were discharged by their employers they applied for unemployment benefits in New York but were denied benefits on the ground that they were not available for work. *fn1" In each case the denial of benefits was upheld upon an administrative appeal after a hearing. *fn2" Although the plaintiffs had a remedy by appeal to the New York State courts they chose not to appeal but instead instituted this action. *fn3" They claim that the determination that they were not available for work denied them equal protection of the laws because it was "contrary to the evidence presented" by them at their hearings and was the result of discrimination against New Jersey residents in favor of New York residents. The defendants have moved to dismiss the amended complaint for lack of jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim. *fn4"

 Even assuming that New York State is required by the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws to extend its unemployment compensation benefits to nonresidents equally with residents, *fn5" the complaint sets forth no more than an allegedly erroneous determination of a factual question controlled entirely by state law. The documents attached to the complaint establish that the denial of unemployment benefits was factually based on the ground that plaintiffs had not been actively engaged in seeking employment or had refused suitable employment. Plaintiffs have failed to allege facts to show that those determinations were in any way invidiously discriminatory. A mere erroneous determination by a state agency charged with the enforcement of state law does not present a substantial federal question; *fn6" nor do the conclusory allegations of discrimination on the basis of plaintiffs' residence in New Jersey suffice to state a claim under the Civil Rights Act. *fn7" Thus, the complaint must be dismissed for failure to state a claim. *fn8"


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