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In NJ, misconduct terminations
are broken down to three types of misconduct: simple misconduct, severe misconduct and gross misconduct.
Simple misconduct is defined as improper, intentional, connected with one’s work, malicious and within the applicant’s control and is either a deliberate violation of his or her employer’s rules or a disregard to standards of behavior that the employer has the right to expect of the applicant. An unintentional, inadvertent or negligent act that does not amount to a wanton disregard of the consequences is not misconduct under New Jersey unemployment benefits laws. A simple misconduct disqualification will prevent an applicant from receiving unemployment benefits for the week of the termination and the subsequent seven weeks. Once this disqualification period ends, the applicant becomes eligible to collect unemployment benefits. Your leaving work without permission is likely to be at the most considered under simple misconduct.
If your reason for termination is deemed to be severe misconduct you will be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefits until you work in new employment for at least four weeks earns at least six times their weekly benefit amount and becomes separated from the new employment through no fault of their own. The New Jersey unemployment law does not define specifically what constitutes severe misconduct, but merely provides examples which include repeated violations of an employer's rule or policy, repeated lateness or absences after the applicant receives a written warning from their employer, falsification of records, physical assault or threats that do not constitute gross misconduct, misuse of benefits or sick time, abuse of leave, theft of company property, excessive use of drugs/alcohol on the job, theft of time, or where the behavior is malicious and deliberate but is not considered gross misconduct.
In the order to consider your termination for Gross Misconduct, which it is highly unlikely it would be, your employer has to show the termination was the result of the applicant committing a crime of the first, second, third or fourth degree under the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice. A termination for gross misconduct will disqualify an applicant from receiving unemployment benefits until he she returns to work for at least eight weeks, earns ten times their weekly benefit rate, and becomes unemployed through no fault of their own.
However, with the explanations of misconduct above, it does not appear your leaving constituted anything more than simple misconduct at the worst. I would argue though that you voluntarily left the employment with good cause because the terms and conditions of employment without AC in unbearable heat and bug bites would be considered intolerable to the reasonable employee and under NJ law good cause voluntary leaving of employment is considered sufficient to award benefits without penalty.
Thus, I would suggest you file an official written appeal to unemployment and present your case you left because of the intolerable conditions and as such benefits should be awarded. However, at the very worst if they find simple misconduct you would lose the one week of benefits for when you left and then 7 more weeks before your benefits would start.
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