CRITERIA FOR DETERMINING WHETHER A CLAIMANT IS A SEPARATE BUSINESS ENTITY PURSUANT TO THE FAIR PLAY ACT CLARIFIED; MATTER REMITTED TO THE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE APPEAL BOARD FOR A DECISION WHETHER CLAIMANT WAS AN EMPLOYEE OR AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR USING THE CORRECT ANALYTICAL CRITERIA (THIRD DEPT).
The Third Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Devine, reversing the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board and remitting the matter, clarified the meaning of the first criterion for determining whether claimant is an employee or an independent contractor pursuant to the so-called separate business entity test under the Fair Play Act. Here, the Board found that the claimant was an employee of Adelchi entitled to unemployment benefits, but the Third Department, agreeing with Adelchi’s argument, held the Board had not applied the proper criteria to its analysis:
The issue [is] whether claimant could be viewed as a separate business entity and, in that regard, Adelchi argues that the Board misconstrued the first criterion of the separate business entity test by demanding proof of a total lack of direction or control over a business entity (see Labor Law § 861-c  [a]). Adelchi contends that this criterion of the separate business entity test instead codifies the common-law rule that “[a]n employer-employee relationship exists when the evidence demonstrates that the employer exercises control over the results produced by claimant or the means used to achieve the results” … , which involves a fact-specific inquiry where “the relevant indicia of control will necessarily vary depending on the nature of the work” … . * * *
We … conclude that the first criterion in the separate business entity test does not require a contractor to show a total lack of direction or control over a business entity, but instead that their relationship as a whole did not show sufficient “control over the results produced or the means used to achieve the results” by the contractor to reflect an employer-employee relationship … . Although the factual findings already made by the Board would appear to permit the determination that Adelchi did not meet the first criterion under the proper analysis, we are constrained to reverse and remit so that the Board may answer that question in the first instance … . Matter of Tuerk (Adelchi Inc.–Commissioner of Labor), 2020 NY Slip Op 03441, Third Dept 6-18-20