On February 17, 2011, the Assembly approved a bill (A3707) to clarify recent changes in the Unemployment Insurance Law regarding disqualification from unemployment insurance benefits for misconduct by claimants. If passed, the bill would add a definition of “simple misconduct” that codifies into the statute the definition of “minor” misconduct found in existing regulations. The bill also would replace the law’s definition of “severe misconduct,” which currently only lists examples, with a comprehensive definition. The definition would include work-connected misconduct other than gross misconduct that either: 1) is committed with malice and deliberate disregard for the property, safety or life of people at the work site or consumers, and consists of violence, threats, theft, or other employee-caused, substantial property or monetary loss; or 2) is comprised of a pattern of instances of simple misconduct that are, after written employer warnings, repeated so frequently that they cause substantial property damage or disruption of employer operations. The bill also would add to the Unemployment Insurance Law the requirement found in existing regulations that the burden of proof is on the employer to demonstrate that employee actions constitute misconduct, and it would add a requirement not in the current regulations that the employer must provide written documentation to show that the employee’s actions constitute simple misconduct, serious misconduct, or gross misconduct.

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