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Moore v. Ross

decided: August 17, 1982.

WILBERT MOORE AND MALCOLM TURNER, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
PHILIP ROSS, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS INDUSTRIAL COMMISSIONER OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR; LOUIS SITKIN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS CHAIRMAN OF THE NEW YORK STATE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPEAL BOARD; JOHN A. ROGALIN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A MEMBER OF THE NEW YORK STATE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPEAL BOARD; JAMES R. RHONE, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A MEMBER OF THE NEW YORK STATE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPEAL BOARD; HARRY ZANKEL, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A MEMBER OF THE NEW YORK STATE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPEAL BOARD; AND G. DOUGLAS PUGH, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A MEMBER OF THE NEW YORK STATE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPEAL BOARD, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Appeal from a decision of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Robert L. Carter, Judge, granting summary judgment to the State defendants in an action alleging that the New York State Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board violates claimants' rights to due process and fair hearing by reversing the credibility findings of its administrative law judges and by issuing insufficiently specific opinions. Affirmed.

Oakes, Meskill, and Kearse, Circuit Judges.

Author: Oakes

OAKES, Circuit Judge:

This appeal challenges the constitutionality of two practices of the New York State Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board. Claimants Wilbert Moore and Malcolm Turner contend that the Board's practices of reversing credibility determinations by administrative law judges (ALJs) without holding additional hearings, and of reversing ALJs' decisions without specifying the evidence relied upon, violate their rights to due process and fair hearing. Judge Robert L. Carter of the Southern District of New York found no due process violation in either practice. Moore v. Ross, 502 F. Supp. 543 (S.D.N.Y. 1980). We affirm.

FACTS

Moore and Turner both applied for unemployment insurance benefits after they were dismissed from their jobs. Moore's local office determined that he was entitled to benefits, and his employer requested a hearing before an ALJ; Turner's local office found him not entitled to benefits, and he requested a hearing before an ALJ.*fn1

After conducting hearings, the ALJs in both cases found the claimants entitled to benefits. In Moore's case, the crucial issue was whether he had compelling personal reasons for reporting late to work one morning. The ALJ, finding that "claimant was discharged due to his lateness after taking his son to school" when his wife was called away on a family emergency, held that Moore's lateness was not misconduct disentitling him to benefits. In Turner's case, the crucial issue was whether he had called in to report his intended absence as required by his employer's rules. The ALJ found that Turner had "report[ed] his absence and the employer [had] refused to receive the report."

The respective employers appealed these rulings to the Appeal Board,*fn2 which reversed and denied benefits in both cases. The Board did not hold a further hearing in either case, but based its decision on the record and testimony already developed. In Moore's case, the Board's opinion stated:

The credible evidence establishes that claimant was late on December 19, 1977 after receiving warnings about latenesses. Although he knew that he would be late on that day he failed to notify his employer. In view of the contradictions in claimant's statements, we reject his contention that he was late due to a compelling reason. We conclude that the claimant lost his employment through misconduct in connection therewith.

In Turner's case, the Board's opinion stated:

The evidence establishes that claimant did not call his employer within one hour prior to his starting time, as the employer required. Significantly, claimant had been placed on final warning and he knew that his job was in jeopardy if he continued to violate the attendance rules. We reject claimant's contention that he notified a co-worker of his absence, in view of the co-worker's testimony to the contrary. Under the circumstances we conclude that claimant lost his employment through misconduct in connection therewith.

Neither claimant appealed the Board's decision in his case to a state court.*fn3 Instead Moore and Turner filed a class complaint in the Southern District of New York for declaratory and injunctive relief and damages, alleging that the Appeal Board's challenged practices were invalid under both the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the fair hearing requirement of the Social Security Act.*fn4 The parties stipulated that the challenged practices were the following:

1) It is a policy and practice of the New York State Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board to review de novo and make a de novo determination on all issues, including credibility, without necessarily holding a further hearing.

2) It is a policy and practice of the New York State Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board to make findings of fact, opinions and decisions, including reasons, without specifying the evidence relied upon other than a reference to the record and without ...


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