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August 22, 2018

Determining if an employer-employee relationship existed for the purposes of determining providing unemployment insurance coverage to an individual


Determining if an employer-employee relationship existed for the purposes of determining providing unemployment insurance coverage to an individual
Matter of New York State Sheriffs' Assn., Inc. (Commissioner of Labor), 2018 NY Slip Op 05644, Appellate Division, Third Department

New York State Sheriffs' Association, Inc. [Association] is a nonprofit trade organization that represents, provides training and offers legal resources for elected sheriffs in New York State. The Association also advocates on behalf New York State Sheriffs.

The Department of Labor issued an initial "audit determination" that assessed the Association for additional unemployment insurance contributions on behalf of two individuals who provided service to the Association; one in marketing and communication services, and a second who provided bookkeeping services. Following the affirmation of that finding by an Administrative Law Judge, which was ultimately sustained by the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, the Association appealed the Board's determination.

The Appellate Division affirmed the Board's determination explaining "[w]hether an employer-employee relationship exists is a question of fact, to be decided on the basis of evidence from which it can be found that the alleged employer exercises control over the results produced . . . or the means used to achieve the results." Further, said the court, "... no one factor is determinative and the determination of the . . . [B]oard, if supported by substantial evidence on the record as a whole, is beyond further judicial review even though there is evidence in the record that would have supported a contrary conclusion."

Here, said the court, both individuals were represented on the Association's website as staff members, and had email addresses and contact telephone numbers at the Association. They both were provided with office space, equipment and supplies, parking spots and the access code to enter the Association's offices.

With respect to the individual performing marketing and communication services, the decision notes that "she submitted a resume and was hired by the executive director of the Association, without a contract, to write the Association's weekly newsletter, maintain its website and social media information, and enlist vendors for the Association's biannual conference" among other duties. The Associationg provided her with business cards identifying her as the Association's marketing and communications manager and negotiated her rate of pay, as well as paid vacation. It paid her "in her personal capacity" and provided her with additional "employee benefits."

The individual providing bookkeeping service had been "the Association's bookkeeper for over 10 years," had been hired after submitting a resume in response to an advertisement by the Association, performed typical bookkeeper duties such as billing customers, paying bills, balanced accounts, wrote checks and processed the time records for the payroll. Although the bookkeeper "had a bookkeeping business," the Appellate Division noted that "he is no longer actively pursuing clients, no longer submits a business invoice to the Association for his services and is paid by the hour, biweekly through direct deposit to his personal account."

This, said the court, provides substantial evidence demonstrating that the Association retained overall control over important aspects of the services performed by these two workers "that they are employees, and the Department properly assessed the Association for additional unemployment insurance contributions.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:


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