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Carr v. Board of Review

A-0396-03T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. 2004) (Unpublished)

UNEMPLOYMENT—A supervisor’s statement to an employee that “if you don’t like it, go home and don’t come back,” does not constitute a firing for the purpose of determining unemployment benefits.

An employee was denied unemployment compensation benefits on the ground that he left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work. Before an Appeal Tribunal, the employee testified that his employer called him “stupid,” and then told him: “If you don’t like it, you can go home and don’t come back.” Thus, he contended that he had good cause to leave work and should have received unemployment. The employer admitted calling him “stupid,” but stated that the employee persisted and asked him what other job he wanted “Mr. Stupid” to do, referring to himself. The employer testified that the employee then insisted on being told to go home. Based on the testimony, the Appeal Tribunal rejected the employee’s account that he had been terminated. It held that both parties agreed that the employer had said: “If you don’t like it, go home and don’t come back.” To the Tribunal, this meant the employee was given the choice to either continue his employment or leave. Accordingly, the Tribunal held that he was disqualified for unemployment benefits.

After the Board of Review affirmed the Tribunal’s decision, the employee appealed to the Appellate Division, still contending that he did not leave work voluntarily. The Court disagreed. It held that an individual is disqualified for unemployment compensation benefits where he has left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to such work. Mere dissatisfaction with working conditions, which are not shown to be abnormal or which do not affect health, does not constitute good cause for voluntarily leaving work. The decision to leave employment must be compelled by real, substantial, and reasonable circumstances, not imaginary or whimsical ones. An employee must do what is necessary and reasonable in order to remain employed. The Court noted that the employee himself conceded that he was given the choice of leaving if he did not care for the working conditions. Instead of doing what was necessary and reasonable in order to remain employed, the employee opted to quit. While the employer’s comment may have been insensitive, the Court did not consider it sufficient cause for the employee to leave his employment. The Court did not find that the employee’s working conditions were abnormal, intolerable or oppressive. Therefore, the Court held that the Board of Review’s decision was not arbitrary and the Board could have reasonably reached its conclusion.

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