New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently signed into law Bill A-3871 which immediately takes effect and amends N.J.S.A. 43:21-5 by removing the “simple misconduct” and “severe misconduct” standards for unemployment insurance benefits disqualification and instead replaces them with a more straightforward and manageable “misconduct” standard. Previously, a finding of severe misconduct would result in work totally forfeiting their rights to unemployment insurance benefits. Misconduct is now defined as follows:
“Misconduct” means conduct which is improper, intentional, connected with the individual’s work, within the individual’s control, not a good faith error of judgment or discretion, and is either a deliberate refusal, without good cause, to comply with the employer’s lawful and reasonable rules made known to the employee or a deliberate disregard of standards of behavior the employer has a reasonable right to expect, including reasonable safety standards and reasonable standards for a workplace free of drug and substance abuse.
The new law makes clear that the burden of establishing misconduct before the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workplace Development, Division of Unemployment Insurance (the “Division”) is on the employer who must do so by providing the Division with “written documentation demonstrating that the employee’s action constitute misconduct …”