Saturday, January 30, 2010
Twenty-day statute of limitations for filing an appeal with the Unemployment Insurance Board strictly construed
An agency Administrative Law Judge [ALJ] reversed an initial determination that denied former New York State Thruway employee James J. Pascarella’s application for unemployment insurance benefits. The ALJ’s decision approving Pascarella’s claim for benefits included a statement that a party had 20 days to file an appeal challenging the determination.*
The Thruway Authority filed an appeal, but it was dismissed on the grounds that it was untimely.
In the course of a hearing to determine if the Thruway’s appeal was timely, the Thruway’s representatives admitted the Thruway received the ALJ's decision shortly after it was mailed but testified that the Thruway’s delay in seeking to appeal was due to its mistaken belief that it, as the employer, had 30 days, within which to do so.
The Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board dismissed the Thruway’s appeal as untimely.
The Appellate Division affirmed the Board’s determination pointing out that Labor Law §621(1) requires that an appeal to the Board from an ALJ's ruling must be made within 20 days of the date the decision is mailed or personally delivered to the party wishing to appeal.
The court explained that statutory time limits are strictly construed and neither the fact that the party appealing failed to read or understand that part of the ALJ's decision indicating the time period for filing a timely appeal nor its mistaken belief that it had more time to appeal is not a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with the statutory time period provided to do so.
* Another example of a “short statutes of limitations,” an appeal challenging an Education Law §3020-a disciplinary determination pursuant to CPLR Article 75 must be filed within ten days of the receipt of the decision by the party challenging the decision [see Education Law §3020-a.5].
Reprinted with permission New York Public Personnel Law
Mitchell H. Rubinstein