The Third Department determined inspectors hired by Partnership for Response and Recovery (PaRR) to inspect damage to property caused by Hurricane Sandy were employees entitled to Unemployment Insurance benefits:
Before the inspectors were deployed to a particular disaster area, PaRR set up a field operation near the site where it distributed FEMA-issued computers and cameras to the inspectors. In addition, for the inspectors’ convenience, it provided them with invoice forms containing the information required by FEMA to be used to receive payment. PaRR also supplied them with an identification badge bearing its logo and offered them training on how to utilize the FEMA computer system and comply with FEMA’s requirements. PaRR set the rate of pay at $62.50 per inspection, paid inspectors even if it had not yet received payment from FEMA, reimbursed them for travel to the site of the assignment and provided compensation for prepositioning to the site. Moreover, it conducted a quality review of 3% of the inspection reports and encouraged inspectors to complete their reports within three days as requested by FEMA. PaRR also provided field support to the inspectors to assist them with completing their inspection reports and using the FEMA computer system.
Although claimant and the other inspectors worked independently and without any supervision from PaRR in conducting the actual inspections, the evidence demonstrates that PaRR retained overall control over many important aspects of their work. Although some of this control emanated from the regulatory requirements imposed by FEMA, this was not to such an extent as to negate the existence of an employment relationship … . Matter of Jensen (Partnership for Response & Recovery, LLP–Commissioner of Labor), 2019 NY Slip Op 09073, Third Dept 12-19-19