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By August 30, 2017Blog

It’s part of running a nonprofit – employee turnover.

You hire an employee. The employee stays a number of years. The employee provides notice and moves on to the next step in their career. It’s the employee life-cycle.

But sometimes an employee voluntarily separates for a new job and your organization later receives an unemployment claim. That’s exactly the outcome of a recent Appellate Division decision in New Jersey.

The case centers around a school teacher, Patricia McClain. Patricia gave notice to her employer and accepted a new position with another school set to begin the following week. However, a day after Patricia quit, the new school rescinded its offer because the teacher she was slated to replace returned, eliminating the open position.

According to New Jersey unemployment statute, Patricia was eligible for unemployment benefits as long as she started her new job within seven days. Initially, the state unemployment board denied her claim because she never actually got to start the new position. That initial decision was overturned by a three-judge Appellate Division panel.

“[A] claimant need not actually start the new employment to be exempt from disqualification” from benefits, wrote Appellate Division Judge Francis Vernoia. Vernoia went on to say that the issue was a question of interpretation, and added that the appeals court determined that the statute should be interpreted liberally so as to not penalize workers who leave one job for another that pays better.

According to the New Jersey Appellate Division, 26 states have adopted similar statutes and interpreted them similarly.

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