November 16, 2021

Per diem substitute teacher eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits despite the school district's claim that she had not worked "the required 20 days as a substitute teacher"

A claimant [Claimant] for unemployment insurance benefits worked as a per diem substitute teacher for the City School District of the City of New York [NYCSD] during the 2017-2018 school year. She was paid only for the days she worked.

Claimant worked a total of 18 days during that school year, often declining per diem assignments due to conflicts with her other part-time job and other reasons. She last worked on June 25, 2018, the final day of school. On July 16, 2018, NYCSD advised Claimant that she was ineligible to serve as a substitute teacher in the 2018-2019 school year as she had not worked the required 20 days as a substitute teacher in the prior school year.

The Department of Labor determined that Claimant was eligible to receive benefits. NYCSD appealed, contending that Claimant "had provoked her discharge for failing to complete the required 20 days of per diem work."

After a hearing, an Administrative Law Judge and, thereafter, the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board, affirmed the Labor Department's initial determination, finding that, as a per diem employee, Claimant's employment relationship with the school district ended on her last day of work, June 25, 2018. As such, Claimant did not have an employment relationship with at the time that she applied for benefits and thus could not be found to have provoked her discharge or voluntarily quit.

NYCSD appealed the Board's determination but the Appellate Division sustained the Board's ruling, explaining that as there is substantial evidence supporting the Board's determination, it must be affirmed.

The narrow issue presented was whether the Board correctly determined that Claimant, a per diem employee who was last employed by NYCSD on June 25, 2018, did not thereafter cause her discharge or voluntarily quit by not pursuing avenues to renew her per diem eligibility nor did NYCSD establish that it was compelled to discontinue Claimant's status as a per diem teacher on that basis.

Accordingly, the Appellate Division found that Claimant was entitled to the unemployment insurance benefits awarded to her by the Labor Department and that the wages paid to her by NYCSD can be used to establish a future claim for benefits.

Click HEREto access the Appellate Division's ruling.