Recent changes to the New Jersey Unemployment Compensation Act have made it easier for employers and the State to deny benefits to unemployed workers. The new law expands the range of events which can lead to an employee being disqualified from receiving benefits, and lengthens the amount of time for which a worker will be disqualified.
The significant change is in the definition of “misconduct.” There are now three types of “misconduct” — simple, severe and gross. “Simple misconduct” includes things like insubordination and excessive lateness or absences, with no written warnings issued. “Severe misconduct” includes use of drugs/alcohol on the job, repeated violations of a company rule, repeated lateness or absences after receiving a written warning, or destruction/theft of company property. “Gross misconduct” is any conduct which would be a crime under the New Jersey penal code, such as embezzlement, grand theft, or bribery.
According to the Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development, employees fired for simple misconduct will be disqualified from receiving benefits for eight (8) weeks. Severe misconduct merits an indefinite disqualification unless the employee finds a new job, earns six times his weekly benefit rate, stays in the job for at least four weeks, and then loses his job again. Employees found to have committed gross misconduct cannot receive benefits at all, unless and until they return to work for at least eight (8) weeks, earn ten (10) times their weekly benefit rate, and become unemployed through no fault of their own.
These changes are projected to save New Jersey $150 to $175 million annually.
My office is seeing more and more people who are being denied unemployment benefits. In many cases, these benefits are being denied unfairly. If you have been denied unemployment insurance, it is imperative that you contact a knowledgeable attorney to handle your appeal.