On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor and Industry.
King, R.s. Cohen and Stern. The opinion of the court was delivered by King, P.J.A.D.
This case concerns the loss of unemployment compensation benefits received upon layoff from full-time employment because a worker later voluntarily leaves a part-time job. In this case, novel in this jurisdiction, we resolve the issue in favor of the worker. We reverse and reinstate the entitlement to benefits denied by the Division of Employment and Disability Insurance.
The claimant, Lorraine Goodman, was a shirt-presser at Turi Cleaner's in Merchantville, Camden County from June 1988 through March 1989. She earned $321 a week. She was fired from her job on March 31 after she failed to report for work because of a plumbing problem, "a major disaster," at her home. She then filed for unemployment benefits which she started receiving on April 9. While receiving unemployment benefits, claimant took a part-time telemarketing job with JFD
of Pennsauken where she started on April 12 with full knowledge by the Division.
Claimant was initially eligible for and started receiving the maximum benefit of $193 per week as of April 9. She worked at JFD part-time at $4 per hour for only three weeks. During the weeks ending April 15, 22 and 29, she earned $28, $52 and $16, respectively, at JFD. For the week ending April 22, when she earned $52, her unemployment compensation benefits were reduced from $193 to $179 because she had earned above the permitted maximum that week. Her earnings for the other two weeks during which she worked part-time did not reduce her maximum unemployment benefits of $193.
Claimant received total benefits of $2,109 over the 11 week period during which she collected benefits, i.e., the week ending April 15 to the week ending June 24. As noted, only during the week ending April 22 when she made $52 was her unemployment compensation benefit reduced, and then by only $14.
Claimant left her part-time job at JFD late in April because she had to schedule appointments for interviews for full-time work during the morning hours. She had worked at JFD from 9 a.m. to noon. JFD could not schedule her for part-time work at later hours. As claimant put it at her hearing in August 1989:
Q. What was the reason for that [leaving JFD]?
A. Well, I had set up a few appointments. After calling her two days in one week to tell her that I wouldn't be in because I had an appointment set up, I felt bad about not you know, not living up to my expectations about coming in, and asked her if she could give me the hours from four on, and she couldn't. From four o'clock in the evening. That way I wouldn't lose any appointments that I had set up for looking for a full time job.
Q. Couldn't you set up the appointments for the afternoon instead of the morning?
A. If I had been home in the morning to accept it and arrange for it and by being a telephone service there I ...