A full-time school district teaching assistant [Claimant] was also employed as a part time home instruction teacher. When furloughed from her part-time position, Claimant filed an application for unemployment insurance benefits. Based upon Claimant's weekly certifications that she had worked zero days during the week for which she was certifying for benefits, Claimant received unemployment insurance benefits for that period as well as federal pandemic unemployment compensation [FPUC] pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020 [The CARES Act].
The Department of Labor [Labor], however, determined that Claimant was ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits because she was not totally unemployed as she continued to work at and receive her full salary from the school district during the relevant time period. Accordingly, Labor charged her with recoverable overpayment of the state benefits and FPUC received and imposed a monetary penalty and forfeiture of future benefit days based upon a finding that Claimant made willful false statements to obtain those benefits.
An Administrative Law Judge sustained Labor's initial determinations, which decision was affirmed by the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board [Board]. Claimant appealed the Board's decision.
The Appellate Division sustained the Board ruling, noting that the record and Claimant's testimony indicated that Claimant "continued to work remotely in her full-time position at the school district and to receive her regular salary during the period at issue." The court found that the Board's decision that Claimant was ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits because she was not totally unemployed was supported by substantial evidence. Acknowledging the Board's finding that Claimant was not totally unemployed, the Appellate Division concluded that as Claimant was ineligible for unemployment insurance benefits under state law, Claimant was also ineligible to receive federal pandemic assistance under the CARES Act.
As to the Board's recovery of the overpayment of benefits, the court noted that where a claimant willfully makes a false statement or representation, or willfully conceals a pertinent fact in connection with his or her claim for unemployment insurance benefits, even if the misrepresentation was unintentional, the benefits paid to the claimant are recoverable.
Considering that Claimant did not disclose her continued full-time employment by the school district when
certifying for and obtaining unemployment benefits, the Appellate Division opined that
"there is no basis to disturb the Board's finding that the benefits paid
to [Claimant] were recoverable."
In addition, as Claimant failed to disclose a pertinent fact and therefore made willful false statements, the Appellate Division held that the imposition of a monetary penalty and forfeiture of future benefit days was warranted. Finally, said the court, the FPUC received by Claimant was also recoverable.
Click HERE to access the Appellate Division's decision posted on the Internet.