Can I Collect Unemployment If I Am Fired in New Jersey?

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In New Jersey, unemployment benefits are paid by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to eligible individuals who have recently been thrown out of work. These payments are intended to help the person get back on his feet by giving him financial breathing room. The person can use this money to pay his bills while he attempts to reenter the workplace. In New Jersey, unemployment benefits are provided to workers who have been fired --- if the firing was done through no fault or misconduct on his part.

Unemployment Benefits

  • To receive unemployment benefits in New Jersey, a person must apply to the state through one of its Department of Labor and Workforce Development offices. When the person applies, she's asked about her previous job, including why she left it. If the person was fired, she's asked the reason that she was fired. The reason she provides is generally checked against information provided by the employer to ensure that it's accurate.

Fault

  • Benefits in New Jersey aren't available to people who were fired for misconduct or performance-related issues. People who were fired for reasons unrelated to their performance, however, are eligible for benefits. So, for example, if a person was fired because the company for which he worked chose to downsize and restructure, then he is likely eligible. However, if he was fired for negligence, he isn't eligible.

Considerations

  • The line between being fired for cause and fired without cause is often quite hazy. A company may choose to downsize while also getting rid of dead wood. A person who was a poor performer and was fired during this period may or may not qualify for unemployment. Generally, a good rule of thumb is that if a person's old position is refilled after she's fired, she's not eligible, although there are a significant number of exceptions. For example, if the company has shifted the duties of employees, then the firing may qualify as a structural layoff.

Options

  • The only way to know for certain whether a person is eligible for unemployment in New Jersey after being fired is to consult with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The office advises the person of his eligibility. If the office denies the employee or his former employer disagrees with his designation, he can appeal. He may also wish to consult an professional with experience in New Jersey employment law.

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