The New Jersey Department of Labor (NJDOL) has proposed an amendment to N.J.A.C. 12:17-10.2, which defines the term “misconduct” for purposes of unemployment benefit disqualification. Currently, an act of misconduct is defined as one that is “improper, intentional, connected with one’s work, malicious, and within the individual’s control, and is either a deliberate violation of the employer’s rules or a disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect of an employee.” The proposed amendment adopts, instead, the following definition used in Beaunit Mills v. Division of Emp. Sec., 43 N.J. Super. 172 (App. Div. 1956): “an act of wanton or willful disregard of the employer’s interest, a deliberate violation of the employer’s rules, a disregard of standards of behavior which the employer has the right to expect of his employee, or negligence in such degree or recurrence as to manifest culpability, wrongful intent, or evil design, or show an intentional and substantial disregard of the employer’s interest or of the employee’s duties and obligations to the employer.” This proposed standard is an easier one for employers to meet, particularly because it adds a new negligence-based reason for disqualification. The stated purpose of the proposed amendment is to eliminate confusion as to when a claimant for unemployment compensation is disqualified for benefits.
Note: This article was published in the November 2009 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.