The New Jersey Supreme Court will soon decide whether someone who leaves a job for another job that never commences will still be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Under New Jersey Unemployment Benefits law, an individual is disqualified for unemployment benefits if he or she has left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work. N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a). In 2015, due to increased political pressure to fix what was commonly referred to as the “Black Hole” of New Jersey unemployment law, the New Jersey legislature specifically amended N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a) to assure that employees are no longer found to be ineligible for leaving one job for an equal or better job, but lose the subsequent job prior to the expiration of the 8 week employment requirement. Specifically, the Legislature stated that there will not be a disqualification if the individual “voluntarily leaves work with one employer to accept from another employer employment which commences not more than seven days after the individual leaves employment with the first employer, if the employment with the second employer has weekly hours or pay not less than the hours or pay of the employment of the first employer, except that if the individual gives notice to the first employer that the individual will leave employment on a specified date and the first employer terminated the individuals before that date, the seven-day period will commence from the specified date.”
But what happens if the new job is rescinded, due to no fault of the employee, before the employee ever starts his or her first day of work? This is exactly what happened in the case entitled McClain v Board of Review. Patricia McClain had been a teacher at the Learning Edge Academy, in Galloway Township. On Oct. 12, 2015, she accepted an offer to teach at another school, in Egg Harbor, to start within seven days after she left her former employer. Unfortunately, a day after McClain quit her job at the Learning Edge, her job offer at Kids Choice was rescinded. As it turned out, the teacher she was supposed to replace, returned to the school, thus eliminating the need for the new position, and a new job for Ms. McClain. Ms. McClain, now finding herself unemployed, applied for unemployment benefits, for which she was denied by the State Department of Labor’s Board of Review.