Lawyer Fired for Drinking at Work Not Entitled to Unemployment Benefits
In an unpublished opinion today, the N.J. Appellate Division affirmed the denial of unemployment benefits for an attorney. Diannajean S. Giganti (Giganti) appealed from a final decision of the Board of Review (Board). She was disqualified for unemployment benefits for severe misconduct on the job at her former firm, Jenkins & Clayman, a firm with five offices throughout New Jersey.
Among other things, the attorney was cited for: taking long lunches and returning to work intoxicated; arriving late to client, trustee and court appearances; leaving paperwork incomplete or poorly done; and instructing office staff to get liquor for her during work hours to consume and keep in her office. Despite a probationary period given to Giganti for her behavior, clients continued to complain that she continued to drink while working with clients. Co-workers also testified that Giganti smelled of alcohol in the morning and after lunch.
In its ruling, the Appellate Division agreed with the Board that Giganti's excessive and repetitive drinking while on the job alone satisfied the statutory example of "severe misconduct." The Court affirmed the Board's decision to deny Giganti benefits and stated that the charge was "amply supported by the employer's
A copy of the Court's opinion is available here:
According to the NJ Judiciary's website, Ms. Giganti, admitted to the New Jersey Bar in 1993, is classified as 'Administratively Ineligible'. The attorney is not currently eligible to practice law in New Jersey for one or more reasons, including failure to pay the annual attorney assessment to the New Jersey Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection, failure to register with IOLTA or maintain IOLTA accounts, or otherwise failing to meet the requirements of Rule 1:21-1(a).Administrative ineligibility is not the result of discipline, but attorneys who are administratively ineligible are not allowed to practice law in New Jersey.