Author Topic: Unemployment Benefits Claims??  (Read 13906 times)

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NomieRae

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Unemployment Benefits Claims??
« on: Feb 06, 2009, 03:18 pm »
Hi All---

Just a long shot because I'm seeking some advice in a battle with a previous employer over claiming benefits... If anyone is familiar with NY state unemployment benefits and how they relate to a non-union freelancer I would love to hear your advice on this one..

So I was employed from September 12-December 15 2008 as a PSM on a children's tour. I signed a contract for those dates and completed all of those dates and tasks required in the contract. The week after the tour ended I applied for and was granted unemployment benefits as I fell under the tenet of 'lack of work' since there was not an opportunity for me to continue with the company at that time. Now, over a month after I started claiming (and receiving benefits), my benefits are suspended because the company is claiming that I "resigned before my contractual obligations had finished", and also that I'm "not eligible" since I knew when the contract was ending.

What am I missing here?! I spoke to several people at the department of labor who work with freelancers and the entertainment industry and they said my claim SEEMED valid on paper, but they would have to wait for the investigation (I may have to go to court) to be completed before I would see any more benefits.

This is so completely frustrating since I have been scouring the city for ANY work (not even just theater) and have only come up with some interviews which never transpired. Also most theater work right now does not pay me enough to live on-actually less than my benefits would be...

Another side note: for freelancers, do you claim benefits while working for a contract that the payment is a 'reimbursement?' I know under AEA that members who are doing showcases can still claim unemployment during the showcase rehearsal and performance periods since the pay is a 'reimbursement' and not a wage. I've never tried to do it because I always thought it was an Equity loophole that I wasn't able to use...Thoughts??



--Naomi
"First, I honor life, and with it my life in theatre." -- Jacques Burdick

Libby

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Re: Unemployment Benefits Claims??
« Reply #1 on: Feb 06, 2009, 05:58 pm »
That is crazy! I can't believe the company is saying that you resigned. I have used ny unemployment for those times between jobs. I haven't ever had a problem. It is what's considered lack of work. Just because you knew when your contract ends doesn't mean you can automatically line something else up (even if you have months in advance). Is it NY unemployment that is saying you're not eligible or your former company? I would suggest calling your old company. Maybe it is just a mix up. See what they thought were your contractual agreements that you failed to do? Also, can you prove that you finished with the show at the same time your contract ended?

This sadly, might take some time to wade through and it just really sucks that you might have to wait to get money that I know is needed when out of work living in nyc.

As to the reimbursement. How are you being taxed on it? Are they taking money out? Did you fill out any tax related paperwork? If not I would say go ahead and file.

ericjames

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Re: Unemployment Benefits Claims??
« Reply #2 on: Feb 06, 2009, 08:16 pm »
My unemployment experience is with CT, not NY.. but for the purposes of this question, the rules should be very similar.

Based on your story, you should be completely eligible for the benefits.  The only reason that the company would be able to deny your claim is if you were fired or left without finishing the contract.    Since it sounds like neither of these are true, I would suggest talking with the company.    Figure out the reason that they are denying the claim and go from there. 

Unfortunately, you may now be stuck in a lot of red tape... good luck!

SMrose

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Re: Unemployment Benefits Claims??
« Reply #3 on: Feb 06, 2009, 09:00 pm »
Not wanting to assume---did you work under a 1099 or W-4?

NomieRae

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Re: Unemployment Benefits Claims??
« Reply #4 on: Feb 06, 2009, 10:28 pm »
Quote
Not wanting to assume---did you work under a 1099 or W-4?

I was working under a W4 for the tour.

I've heard advice that if you're not given a 1099 or a W4 for your pay that you can file unemployment because it's not taxable wages...thoughts? I've done lots of work for $599.99 so the company could avoid 1099's...just wondering if I could have been collecting unemployment most of those times...
--Naomi
"First, I honor life, and with it my life in theatre." -- Jacques Burdick

stagegal1

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Re: Unemployment Benefits Claims??
« Reply #5 on: Feb 07, 2009, 03:13 am »
I am sure your unemployment claim will be upheld, eventually.  It sounds like the employer is starting trouble.  A contract ending is lack of work.  Hopefully, NYS will investigate quickly so you can resume benefits.

As for collecting unemployment while working on a showcase or under 1099 work, that is NOT legal.  You need to be available for work every day.  Each day you work, whether paid or not, you lose 25% of your unemployment benefits for the week.  Also, any money you earn, whether they send you a 1099 or not, is taxable.  That being said, many people still do collect unemployment while doing showcases or 1099 work.  Just be aware that it is not legal, and there are potential ramifications.

Allison

Scott

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Re: Unemployment Benefits Claims??
« Reply #6 on: Feb 07, 2009, 10:03 am »
Allison is completely on target in her caveat on  unemployment and Showcase.  Also note that no money you earn on a 1099 job can be used in calculating your unemployment benfits.



Tempest

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Re: Unemployment Benefits Claims??
« Reply #7 on: Feb 07, 2009, 01:19 pm »
This topic is a better fit under "Employment," so I'm moving it over there.
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nystagemanager26

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Re: Unemployment Benefits Claims??
« Reply #8 on: Feb 09, 2009, 02:02 pm »
Since they are claiming you "resigned before you completed your obligations" did you turn over the antidoted script to them?  With it should be copies of all reports - rehearsal and performance and any other related material.

This happened to me once.  I challenged their claim.  Get NYS to send you a form so you can state your case and when you file include copies of everything you can think of....reports, copy of the closing notice if there was one.

Don't give up.  This can be settled in a few weeks if you file a challenge

NomieRae

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Re: Unemployment Benefits Claims??
« Reply #9 on: Feb 09, 2009, 03:08 pm »
Thank you everyone for all your advice and help!!

I did have all my paperwork from my book (the company itself had the original book as per my contract) and sent copies to my producer asking (in a very nice way)... WTF?!?

Found out today, apparently their payroll company misinterpreted the contract/info that they had on file for me and was trying to be a cheapskate and not give me benefits. The producer had approved my claim back in December as soon as I filed it, and for whatever reason it took over a month for some random red flag to get raised at the payroll company...

Unfortunately...I have to wait for my case manager type person to contact me to help get this straightened out. My producer has already spoken to the payroll people and they are in the process of canceling their complaint..

And here I am in the red tape.   :-\
--Naomi
"First, I honor life, and with it my life in theatre." -- Jacques Burdick

KMC

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Re: Unemployment Benefits Claims??
« Reply #10 on: Feb 12, 2009, 09:45 am »
Just saw this article online from the Washington Post regarding unemployment benefits and it's relevant to your post, NomieRae.  Your former employer very well could have challenged your claim hoping you wouldn't fight it so their unemployment insurance rates would not increase.  That being said it could have just as easily been an honest mistake. 

The full text is an interesting read and demonstrates in recent years a clear rise in challenges to unemployment claims.  So we should expect to see more cases like NomieRae's in the future.  Best to prepare yourself and keep the best documentation you can as to the exact terms of your employment and any potential areas where your employer could challenge your claim.


Quote
More than a quarter of people applying for such claims have their rights to the benefit challenged as employers increasingly act to block payouts to former workers.

The proportion of claims disputed by former employers and state agencies has reached record levels in recent years, according to the Labor Department numbers tallied by the Urban Institute.

Under state and federal laws, employees who are fired for misbehavior or quit voluntarily are ineligible for unemployment compensation. When jobless claims are blocked, employers save money because their unemployment insurance rates are based on the amount of the benefits their workers collect.
Full text here


Edit: fixed typo -kmc307
« Last Edit: Feb 12, 2009, 01:15 pm by kmc307 »
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MatthewShiner

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Re: Unemployment Benefits Claims??
« Reply #11 on: Feb 12, 2009, 11:19 am »
I just heard this on the news as well.  Apparently, it's becoming common practice for some business to flat out deny ALL claims, and then wait for you to fight it. 

Again, in these hard financial times, people are doing some pretty odd things to save a buck.
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DeeCap

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Re: Unemployment Benefits Claims??
« Reply #12 on: Feb 12, 2009, 01:08 pm »
I'm glad that it is getting worked out. I have filed for NY unemployment many, many times and I got my benefits without a problem.
Stay on top of it, and hopefully you'll get a check soon

NomieRae

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Re: Unemployment Benefits Claims??
« Reply #13 on: Feb 23, 2009, 05:18 pm »
Wanting to keep everyone updated-in hopes that no one else has to go through what I have..

So nearly 3 weeks after my benefits have been denied, my case worker finally got in touch with me saying that the payroll company, while "advised by their contact with the company" (a.k.a. the producer and owner of the small theater company)  they were still upholding their claim that I was not eligible.

After about 45 minutes on the phone with the case worker, and then my old boss, both of them are still at a loss on how to resolve this quickly without a hearing before a judge. (Which I'm told I could be waiting 3-6 months for one..)

So what it is coming down to is: Employee says I'm eligible, Employer says I'm eligible, NYS says I'm eligible, Paychex (the payroll company) say's I'm not..which means I get no benefits until either they budge or we appear before a judge.

My next plan of action is getting in touch with the powers that be at the payroll company and getting their policies (in writing) of challenging claims and try and see what grounds they may think they have. The case worker said that this particular company has challenged A LOT of claims in the last 2 months (so all of 2009) and most people either find work or give up before it is resolved.

That all being said--I'm sticking with this, at present date I'm owed over $700 in benefits. I don't care how long this takes I will get my money that is owed to me. Just a heads up to everyone out there to be pro-active in keeping an eye on these things, because they can get out of hand really fast.

More updates when I get them! They can't keep a good SM down!
--Naomi
"First, I honor life, and with it my life in theatre." -- Jacques Burdick

ljh007

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Re: Unemployment Benefits Claims??
« Reply #14 on: Feb 26, 2009, 07:38 am »
You may want to seek a quick letter from an attorney to the payroll company. It is very easy to ignore an everyday citizen like you. It is more difficult to ignore those letters that begin with "Please be advised that I represent..." Check in with a free legal clinic in your area, confirm that you are low-income "enough", and show up at an open advice clinic. You might be able to walk out with a letter that day. Since you don't have a need for ongoing representation (yet), a letter may be all it takes.

Healthcare claims denials are a very hot area right now and many community legal services providers are stepping up their focus on supporting individuals' rights when their claims are wrongly denied. Many employers are flatly denying everything, without any merit, in this tanking economy. See what resources might be available to you by searching for "legal aid" and/or "pro bono" and "healthcare" for your area. Check out www.lawhelp.org to see what local organizations could work with you.

 

riotous