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McClain v. Board of Review

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

August 29, 2017

PATRICIA J. MCCLAIN, Appellant,
v.
BOARD OF REVIEW, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, LEARNING EDGE ACADEMY, INC., and KIDS CHOICE ACADEMY, Respondents.

          Argued May 31, 2017

         On appeal from the Board of Review, Department of Labor.

          Cassandra Stabbert argued the cause for appellant (South Jersey Legal Services, Inc., attorneys; Ms. Stabbert, on the brief).

          Melissa Dutton Schaffer, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent Board of Review (Christopher S. Porrino, Attorney General, attorney; Ms. Schaffer, of counsel; Patrick Jhoo, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

          Respondents Learning Edge Academy, Inc., and Kids Choice Academy have not filed briefs.

          Before Judges Ostrer, Vernoia and Moynihan.

          OPINION

          VERNOIA, J.A.D.

         A recent amendment to the unemployment insurance law exempts from disqualification for unemployment benefits "an individual who voluntarily leaves work with one employer to accept from another employer employment which commences not more than seven days after the individual leaves . . . the first employer." L. 2015, c. 41, § 1, codified at N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a). Appellant left her first employer after accepting new employment that was to commence within seven days; her new employer, however, rescinded the offer before she ever began work. Finding this statute inapplicable - because appellant hadn't commenced her new employment within seven days - the Board found she was disqualified from receiving benefits. We reject the Board's interpretation and reverse, finding a claimant need not actually start the new employment to be exempt from disqualification under N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a).

         I.

         Appellant Patricia J. McClain began working as a teacher at Learning Edge Academy, Inc. in January 2013. She was on disability leave commencing in August 2015, and was scheduled to return to work in October.

         On October 12, 2015, McClain accepted an offer from Kids Choice Academy for full-time employment. She immediately submitted a letter of resignation to Learning Edge.

         The next day, the director of Kids Choice requested McClain's permission to contact Mcclain's former employer and advised her an appointment would be made for her to be fingerprinted. Later in the day, the director rescinded the job offer to McClain because the person McClain was supposed to replace decided to return to work at Kids Choice. McClain also received an email from Learning Edge accepting her resignation.

         McClain began looking for other jobs. She did not contact Learning Edge following its acceptance of her resignation because she did not think Learning Edge would want her to return since she had resigned.

         McClain applied for unemployment benefits. Her claim was denied and she appealed. The Appeal Tribunal held a hearing, McClain testified, and the Appeal Tribunal affirmed the denial. The Appeal Tribunal found McClain resigned from her position with Learning Edge on October 12, 2015 to accept a higher paying position with Kids Choice, and that on October 13, 2015, Kids Choice rescinded the offer "because the employee who originally held the position decided to return to work."

         The Appeal Tribunal explained that a claimant is disqualified from receiving unemployment compensation benefits under N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a) where the claimant "has left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to such work." The Appeal ...


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