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Haley v. Bd. of Rev.

New Jersey Supreme Court

March 17, 2021

In Haley v. Bd. of Rev., the New Jersey Supreme Court considered whether pretrial detention premised on charges that are later dismissed is a separation from work that automatically disqualifies an applicant from unemployment benefits under the Unemployment Compensation Law (UCL), N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(a). In 2017, authorities arrested Haley and charged him with serious offenses. Haley was detained pretrial. One week after his arrest, Haley’s mother telephoned his employer and requested that his position remain open while he contested the charges, but the employer terminated Haley’s employment. Two months after Haley’s arrest, a grand jury declined to indict. When he was released from custody, Haley applied for unemployment benefits. The Department of Labor and Workforce Development (the Department) denied the application, finding that Haley left his job voluntarily for personal reasons. The Appeal Tribunal, Board of Review, and Appellate Division each affirmed. The New Jersey Supreme Court held that pretrial detention is not an absolute bar to receiving unemployment compensation benefits for the time following the dismissal of the charges and release from detention. Based on the specific facts presented by this appeal, the UCL and N.J.A.C. 12:17-9.1(e)(10) required the Department to review the totality of the circumstances surrounding Haley’s detention and release to determine whether he “left work voluntarily.” That review did not occur.

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