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Friday, March 18, 2016

Distinguishing between residence and domicile


Distinguishing between residence and domicile
Rosseychuk (City of New York--Commissioner of Labor), 2016 NY Slip Op 01885, Appellate Division, Third Department

An individual may simultaneously have a number of residences but he or she has only one domicile at a time regardless of the number of residences involved. The term “domicile” means the place where a person has his or her permanent home to which he or she intends to return if living or having a residence at a different location. 

Zhanna Rosseychuk, as an employee of the New York City Office of Child Support Enforcement [Office], was required to become a resident of the City within 90 days of being hired and to maintain such residency.* The Office discharged Rosseychuk after it learned that that she did not comply with this residency requirements.

Rosseychuk’s application for unemployment insurance benefits was denied by an Administrative Law Judge [ALJ] on the ground that she voluntarily left her employment without good cause inasmuch as she provoked her discharge by not complying with the employer's residency policy. The Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board, without resolving the issue of whether Rosseychuk was in full compliance with the Office's residency policy, reversed the ALJ’s decision on the ground that the voluntary transgression prong of the doctrine of provoked discharge had not been established so as to find that Rosseychuk had voluntarily left her employment without good cause. The Office appealed the Board’s decision.

The Appellate Division said that a "Provoked discharge . . . is a narrowly drawn legal fiction designed to apply where an employee voluntarily engages in conduct which transgresses a legitimate known obligation and leaves the employer no choice but to discharge him [or her]." Whether an applicant for unemployment insurance benefits voluntary left his or her of employment without good cause by provoking his or her discharge is a factual determination for the Board to determine.

Rosseychuk testified that she began living with her cousin in an apartment in New York Cityin an attempt to comply with the Office's residency requirements, as well as to accommodate her school schedule. Rosseychuk testified that she gave her cousin money to live in the apartment and to help offset expenses, that she received mail at that address, including bank account and credit card statements, and that she paid pays New York City income taxes. She also testified that, because she did not fully understand the residency requirement, she asked both her supervisor and the employer's personnel department if she was considered to be in compliance with the necessary requirement; those inquiries, however, went unanswered.

Although Rosseychuk spent time with her husband in an apartment outside New York City, the Office acknowledged that "an individual could maintain more than one residence, even if one was outside New York City, and still be in compliance with its residency requirement."

The Appellate Division ruled that “Under these circumstances, substantial evidence supports the Board's finding that [Rosseychuk] did not voluntarily engage in conduct that transgressed the [Office’s] mandate so as to find that she provoked her discharge.

* NYC Administrative Code §12-119 Definitions, provides: “As used in sections 12-120 and 12-121 of this subchapter:
“a. The word "residence" means domicileand the word "resident" means domiciliary[emphasis supplied].
“b. The term "city service" means service as an employee of the city or of any agency thereof other than service in a position which is exempted from municipal residence requirements pursuant to the public officers law or any other state law.”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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