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October 09, 2013

Service as an independent contractor does not count in qualifying for unemployment insurance benefits


Service as an independent contractor does not count in qualifying for unemployment insurance benefits
Matter of Tkachyshyn (Commissioner of Labor), 2013 NY Slip Op 06057, Appellate Division, Third Department

Volodymyr I. Tkachyshyn, a substitute teacher and math tutor, filed three claims for unemployment insurance benefits.

Although initially deemed eligible for benefits in each instance, following Appellate Division’s decision in Leazard v TestQuest, Inc., 74 AD3d 1414, the Department of Labor issued revised decisions finding that earnings in connection with tutoring services through TestQuest, Inc. was not covered employment for the purposes of qualifying for unemployment insurance benefits “given that tutors such as [Tkachyshyn] were independent contractors.”

The Appellate Division commented that in “TestQuest, Inc. tutors such as claimant were deemed by this Court to be independent contractors … which decision is conclusive and binding upon all such persons employed by TestQuest, Inc.,” citing Labor Law §620[1][b].*Thus, said the court, those earnings cannot qualify for inclusion as remuneration in the base periods to determine eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits.**

As the record establishes that Tkachyshyn did not have sufficient covered earnings to file a valid original claim pursuant to Labor Law §527 in either his base period or alternate base period for any of the three claims, the Appellate Division found that substantial evidence supports the Board's decision and dismissed his appeal.

* §620[1][b] of the Labor Law, in pertinent part, provides that the hearing officer’s “decision shall not be deemed limited in its effect to the immediate claimant making the claim for benefits but shall be deemed a general determination of such questions with respect to all those employed by such person or employer for all the purposes of this article, and such decision shall be conclusive and binding upon the claimant and such person or employer…”.

** The Appellate Division noted that “notwithstanding the absence of any fault on the part of Tkachyshyn, he was charged with a recoverable overpayment of federal emergency unemployment compensation funds. Whether Tkachyshyn was eligible for a waiver of recoverability of those benefits was referred back to the Department of Labor and was not at issue on this appeal.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2013/2013_06057.htm
.

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