Parks v. Board of Review, 2009 WL 203830 (N.J. Super., App. Div., February 10, 2009) – In this case, the claimant was terminated after being absent from work four times in one year due to her own illness, her son’s illness, and the need to care for her four-year-old niece, who was abandoned by her mother. The Appellate Division ruled the claimant’s absences from work did not subject her to the temporary disqualification from unemployment benefits for misconduct under N.J.S.A. 43:21-5(b), because the absences were not willful, deliberate or intentional.

The court made clear that an employee who is discharged for chronic absenteeism without reasonable excuse may still be subject to the disqualification period. However, this claimant’s absences clearly did not fall within that category, and she was therefore not subject to the limitation, which applies only to acts of wanton disregard of the employer’s interest, deliberate violation of its rules, or negligence to such a degree as to demonstrate manifest culpability or wrongful intent.

This decision demonstrates how the specific facts and circumstances surrounding an employee’s absence from work might become relevant in unemployment compensation proceedings.