The Third Department, reversing the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board, determined claimant should have been allowed to present evidence that her misrepresentation that she was not employed was not willful. Based on a flyer put out by the Department of Labor, claimant allegedly believed that she needed to apply for state unemployment benefits to be eligible for federal pandemic unemployment insurance:
At the hearing, claimant requested to admit over 50 pages of documentation into the record. Included in these documents is a flyer, which claimant contends was on the Department of Labor’s website and led her to believe that, despite not being eligible for state unemployment benefits, she may have been entitled to pandemic unemployment assistance under federal legislation that was put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. Claimant argues that she understood this flyer to mean that she was required to apply for state unemployment benefits to obtain relief under the federal legislation. A fair interpretation of the flyer supports that contention. Also included in these documents is evidence of claimant’s many attempts to contact the Department of Labor to determine whether she was, in fact, entitled to the benefits that she was receiving. As these documents bear directly on the issue of determining whether claimant’s misrepresentation was willful, as well as on claimant’s credibility, not allowing them into evidence denied her “a sufficient opportunity to present proof in support of her claim” and did, in fact, deprive her of a fair hearing … . Matter of Nottage (Commissioner of Labor), 2022 NY Slip Op 02476, Third Dept 4-14-22
Practice Point: Here a flyer put out by the Department of Labor indicated it was necessary to apply for state unemployment benefits to be eligible for federal pandemic unemployment benefits. Claimant sought to introduce the flyer in evidence to show her misrepresentation that she was not employed was not “willful.” The evidence should have been considered by the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board.