If you lose your job in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, you might be eligible for unemployment benefits. These benefits are available to people who are temporarily unemployed because of no fault of their own. If you lost your job because of financial reasons, you will qualify as long as you meet the other requirements. However, if you were fired from your job, your eligibility for benefits will depend on the reason for your termination. The attorneys at Swartz Swidler can help you to understand your eligibility for unemployment benefits and assist you if your claim is denied or contested. State laws govern who is eligible for unemployment benefits after they are fired. If you were fired for gross misconduct, you will not be eligible until you have started working at a new job and have kept your position for the required length of time. For regular misconduct, the rules are slightly different.
Being fired in New Jersey or Pennsylvania
New Jersey and Pennsylvania are at-will employment states. This means that your employer can fire you for any reason at any time, including reasons that are not good ones. If your employer fired you simply because of a personality conflict, you should be eligible for unemployment benefits. If you were fired for misconduct, you may have a harder time qualifying for benefits.
Drug and alcohol use while working
New Jersey classifies misconduct as simple, severe, or gross. If you are fired for gross misconduct, you will not be able to collect unemployment benefits based on the employer against whom the gross misconduct was committed. New Jersey classifies alcohol and drug use on the job as severe misconduct, which is a step below gross misconduct. If you were fired for alcohol or drug use on the job, you will be disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation for a certain period. However, you will not be permanently disqualified from receiving them. Your lawyer can help you to understand the disqualification period and what you might do.
Simple, severe, and gross misconduct
Simple misconduct is not clearly defined under New Jersey law. However, the courts have determined that it must be something more than inadvertent or negligent conduct that might violate an employer’s rules. Instead, it must include a degree of intent or willfulness. If you were fired for performing poorly at your job, you will still be eligible for unemployment compensation. If you instead intentionally engaged in actions in violation of your employer’s rules, you will have to wait through a disqualification period before you will be eligible for benefits in New Jersey. The disqualification period is longer for severe misconduct, and if you were fired for gross misconduct, you will not be eligible for unemployment compensation based on the employer against whom the gross misconduct was committed.
Criminal behavior against your employer such as stealing or assaulting a coworker is gross misconduct. You will not be eligible for unemployment benefits if something of this sort was the grounds for your termination. If you violated one of your employer’s policies such as repeatedly failing to follow the safety rules, it will likely be considered to be severe misconduct. If you were repeatedly late for work, it will likely be viewed as simple misconduct.
To learn more about how misconduct is defined in Pennsylvania or New Jersey and whether the reason for your termination will disqualify you from unemployment, talk to the attorneys at Swartz Swidler.
What to do if there is a dispute
If you file for unemployment benefits, your employer can contest your claim. The states have procedures to handle disputes about unemployment benefits eligibility after a claimant has been fired. Many of these disputes center on the reason why the employee was fired. If your employer claims that you were fired for misconduct, you will need to gather evidence and documentation demonstrating that the claim is untrue. An attorney from Swartz Swidler can help you to gather the types of evidence that you will need and can provide you with advice at your hearing.
Get help from the attorneys at Swartz Swidler
Being fired from your job can be devastating. Depending on the reason for your termination, you might still be eligible for unemployment benefits. To learn about your eligibility and how the state defines misconduct, you should talk to the employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler. We can review the documents in your case and discuss the legal options that might be available to you. Contact us today by calling us at 856.685.7420.