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Asking Family and Friends About Jobs Is Not Enough To Be Actively Seeking Work To Receive New Jersey Unemployment Benefits

The New Jersey Appellate Division recently affirmed an Appeal Tribunal and Board of Review decision that the claimant was disqualified for unemployment benefits for failing to actively see work as required by N.J.S.A. 43:21-4(c)(1).

In affirming the decision of the Appeal Tribunal, the Appellate Division noted that New Jersey unemployment benefits law places the burden of proof on the claimant to establish that they have met the eligibility requirements to receive unemployment benefits. The Appellate Division stated that:

Generally, a claimant is eligible to receive benefits if he or she is able to work, and is available to work, and has demonstrated to be actively seeking work. To qualify for benefits, a claimant must make more than minimal efforts to find employment. A claimant must make a sincere effort to obtain employment either in his usual type of work or in such other suitable work as he may be able to do.

In reaching their decision, the Appellate Division reviewed the claimant’s testimony during the hearing before the Appeal Tribunal in which he testified that his job search had consisted of asking family and friends who had different businesses such as the YMCA. The claimant was employed as a full-time Nighttime Supervisor for the food service department at William Paterson University from January 19, 2010 until his last day of work at May 15, 2010. The claimant testified that he works during the school year and was laid off on May 10, 2010 because there was no work available during the summer recess.
Based upon the claimant’s testimony concerning his job search efforts, the Appeal Tribunal held that the claimant was disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits from May 23, 2010 through July 3, 2010 because he was not actively seeking work as required by N.J.S.A. 43:21-4(c)(1).

This case reminds those who make a claim for New Jersey unemployment benefits as a result of losing their job that they better be actively seeking work or they will not receive the benefits. The law requires a sincere effort to find work, which should include at minimum, applying for jobs, filing out applications and trying to get interviews for vacant positions. Merely calling a friend or family member and asking if they have a job is clearly not enough to satisfy the burden to establish eligibility for New Jersey unemployment benefits.