A New Jersey appellate court recently held that an employee who leaves a job for a better paying one is still eligible for unemployment benefits if the better-paying job offer is rescinded. The New Jersey Department of Labor (DOL) and the Appeal Tribunal both denied the appellant’s unemployment claim and the Board of Review denied her request for reopening. In McClain v. Board of Review, the appellate panel overturned the Board’s decision, ruling that the woman is not disqualified for unemployment benefits.
The woman in this case was working as a teacher at Learning Edge Academy when she accepted another higher paying position as a teacher at Kids Choice Academy. She was to begin her new position in seven days and she immediately submitted a letter of resignation to Learning Edge. However, the following day, the director of Kids Choice rescinded the job offer because the teacher that the woman was supposed to replace decided to return to her position. That same day, the woman received an email from Learning Edge accepting her resignation.
The woman then began looking for other jobs and applied for unemployment benefits. Her claim was denied, and she appealed. The Appeal Tribunal cited N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a) which states that claimants who leave work voluntarily and without good cause attributable to such work will be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits. The statute also includes an exemption for employees who voluntarily leave to accept work from another higher paying employer and commence such work within seven days of leaving the first employer.
However, the Tribunal determined that she was not covered by the exemption because she did not commence employment within the allotted seven days. The Board of Review agreed with this decision and denied the woman’s request for reopening. The woman then appealed to the Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division, which examined the Board’s decision in accordance with the court’s obligation to afford the agency deference regarding its interpretation of statutes within the scope of its authority.
The appellant argued that the Board misinterpreted the statute because it does not require employees to actually commence employment, but rather merely requires that they accept employment with the new employer within seven days. The court agreed with the woman and held that the plain language of the statute was inconsistent with the Board’s interpretation.
The court also examined the fundamental purpose for which the New Jersey Unemployment Compensation Law was enacted and found that it was intended to protect workers who are involuntarily unemployed or who voluntarily quit their jobs for good cause attributable to their work. Noting that the law is to be construed liberally in favor of allowance of benefits, the court held that the woman left her job for good cause attributable to the work to accept a higher paying position that was supposed to start within seven days. According to the court, the Board erred in its decision and the woman is entitled to unemployment benefits.
Marlton Employment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Skillfully Handle Unemployment Appeals
If your application for unemployment benefits was initially denied, contact a Marlton employment lawyer at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C.. Our experienced attorneys provide personalized representation and zealous advocacy for clients throughout Burlington County, Camden County, and Monmouth County, including those in the communities of Marlton, Red Bank and Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Call our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, our Newark office at 973-878-9040, or contact us at 888-396-0736 or online for a free consultation.