Losing a job – the way you support your family and yourself – leaves everyone wondering how they will get by until a new job can be found. Different people react differently to the experience, from relative calm to absolute panic. The Unemployment Insurance system provides a safety net for people who find themselves in this difficult situation. Unemployment is funded in part by employee contributions from each paycheck, and partly by employers. The benefit available can be more than $650 per week and can last up for 26 weeks.
Unemployment is a straightforward system in which you can represent yourself if you so choose, and that is sometimes the best thing to do. Other times, however, it may make better sense to work with an attorney to maximize the chance that you will receive benefits. The information below is offered as a public service to help educate you to the basics of unemployment law and practice. However, Steinberg Law LLC does not handle unemployment cases or appeals, so if you want representation we suggest that you contact your local county bar association's Lawyer Referral Service to identify attorneys who handle this kind of matter.
Here is some general background to get you started.
Employees who have resigned or quit their job are generally not entitled to unemployment compensation benefits. However, if the employee quit or resigned under circumstances that gave rise to a hostile work environment, constructive discharge or otherwise establish that there was good cause to quit or resign, the employee may be eligible for benefits.
Employees generally are entitled to collect unemployment benefits as long as they have not voluntarily quit their job or been fired for misconduct. If they are terminated for misconduct they are subject to a six (6) week penalty period before benefits are paid. Termination for misconduct generally means that the employee engaged in a deliberate, willful or intentional wrongful act, or deliberately violated a workplace policy or rule. Poor work performance generally is not misconduct under the unemployment law.
New Jersey employees seeking unemployment benefits may face a hearing with an unemployment insurance examiner. An unsuccessful hearing may result in the denial of benefits. Unemployment insurance benefits now reach a maximum of over $650.00 per week and last for 26 weeks. Employers sometimes contest employees' UI claims their insurance premiums are raised if an employee makes a successful claim for benefits. So there are conflicting economic interests between employer and employee which can lead to a contest.
The unsuccessful party can appeal through several levels of review, most of them in administrative agency but ultimately in the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey. More information about unemployment appeals can be found here.
An attorney can help by working with you to file your NJ Unemployment Appeal. The attorney will be able to review the pertinent laws and regulations, submit documents, ask questions during your examination, cross-examine your former employer's witnesses, and keep the focus on the issues that argue in favor of an award of benefits. As noted above, however, we no longer handle this kind of case.