Jacobs, Eastwood and Bigelow. The opinion of the court was delivered by Eastwood, J.A.D.
The Board of Review of the Unemployment Compensation Commission determined that plaintiff, Anna Valenti, was eligible for one month's benefits and ineligible thereafter, on the ground that she had refused suitable employment without good cause. Plaintiff appeals from the Board's determination.
The appeal is submitted on a stipulation of facts, which may be summarized as follows: Plaintiff worked for a period of twenty-three years in the trade of hand sewing and finishing men's coats; she was employed by A. Di Paola and Company as a home worker from 1945 until October 11, 1947, when her employer, as a matter of business policy, discontinued all home work and simultaneously offered her employment in its factory; contributions to the Unemployment Compensation Commission fund were regularly deducted from her wages; Mrs. Valenti refused to accept proffered
employment at the factory because, when she rides in a motor vehicle, she becomes highly nauseous, frequently bringing about violent sickness, and resulting in a highly nervous state, thus preventing her from working in a shop or factory; she walks with difficulty and is unable to cover the approximate mile and one-half which separates her home from the factory; she made efforts to find home work employment "which, for the reasons already mentioned, is the only kind of work she can do;" that she registered as "ready, willing and able to accept and perform home work at the United States Employment Service; but to date of this stipulation, employment has not been obtained for her;" on August 12, 1947, she filed a claim for benefits and after hearings, the Board of Review held that she was eligible for one month's benefits and ineligible thereafter; there are only two employers of home workers in the Camden area where Mrs. Valenti resides, one of which employed two home workers and the other only one.
The question to be decided here is: Did Mrs. Valenti establish that she was able to and available for work and thus eligible for unemployment compensation benefits, as prescribed by R.S. 43:21-4 (c)? Appellant contends that under the stipulation of facts the only suitable work she is capable of performing, by reason of her admitted physical infirmities, is home work; that the proffered factory employment was not suitable in view of her physical incapacity to perform it, as conceded by the Board in the factual stipulation; that she is able and willing to do home work, to which she is accustomed and which she has pursued for many years until laid off by her former employer; that she has registered for that type of employment and has at all times made herself available for such employment; that she has good cause for refusing the factory work offered her and that she was entitled, therefore, to benefits for the period fixed by the statute, unless she sooner secured further employment. The Board contends that Mrs. Valenti was paid all benefits to which she was entitled and, having failed to accept employment at the factory or other suitable employment by the end of the month's period of benefits paid to her, she was thereafter ineligible on
the ground that she had "so restricted her availability as to make herself unavailable for work and ineligible for benefits within the purview of R.S. 43:21-4 c." We are of the opinion that the Board erred in its determination.
It should be borne in mind that the public policy upon which our unemployment compensation statute is built is intended to insure a diligent worker against the vicissitudes of enforced unemployment not voluntarily created by the worker. It has been recognized that unemployment compensation acts should be liberally construed to accomplish this result. While unemployment compensation statutes were designed primarily to relieve the distress of those who find themselves without employment, they are not intended to enable an employee to leave his work without cause and be entitled to unemployment benefits, or to entitle an employee, whether he quit his job voluntarily or involuntarily, to benefits after his refusal without just cause thereafter to accept employment. R.S. 43:21-2, declares the public policy which we are called upon to use "as a guide to the interpretation and application" of the unemployment statute. It appears, therefore, that the determining factor, in deciding whether plaintiff was entitled to further benefits, is, did she have "good cause" to refuse the proffered employment at the factory and was that kind of work "suitable" in view of her limited physical capacity. Whether the factor of good cause is present must be determined from the facts of each case. R.S. 43:21-5 (c-1) provides that:
"In determining whether or not any work is suitable for an individual, consideration shall be given to the degree of risk involved to his health, safety and morals, his physical fitness and prior training, his experience and prior earnings, his length of unemployment and prospects for securing local work in his customary occupation, and the distance of the available work from his residence."
Under the statute, plaintiff was obviously not entitled to further benefits unless the facts establish that she had good cause for refusing the work at the factory or that it was not suitable in view of her physical condition. At the argument, counsel for the Board conceded that Mrs. Valenti was acting
in good faith in her contention that she cannot perform any other work than home work, but still contended that, in view of the limited labor market in the Camden area for home workers, she could not so narrowly restrict her availability for re-employment and at the same time be eligible for unemployment compensation benefits. The factual situations in the cases cited by the Board in support of its contention that Mrs. Valenti was ineligible for benefits distinguish them from the case sub judice. In the case of Muraski v. Board of Review of U.C.C. , 136 ...