Commonwealth Court: Plans to host bridal show don't render woman ineligible for unemployment

By Carrie Salls | Jun 29, 2017

HARRISBURG — The state Commonwealth Court has reversed an Unemployment Compensation Board of Review ruling that denied benefits to a claimant based on the board’s assertion that she was self-employed, according to an opinion filed June 14.

The opinion said claimant Karrie L. Cristea, whose job with Holiday Inn ended in May 2016, was informed by the Department of Labor and Industry that she could lose her unemployment benefits if she followed through with plans to host a bridal show, as the hosting duties could be classified as self-employment.

To avoid losing her unemployment compensation, the court said Cristea withdrew her application to the Internal Revenue Service requesting an employer identification number (EIN).

Although she withdrew her request for an EIN, court documents said “the board determined that claimant was ineligible for benefits under section 402(h) of the Unemployment Compensation Law because she was engaged in self-employment.”

“The board found that claimant took the action to initiate a business by applying for an EIN; by planning to host a bridal show in January 2017; by planning to contact vendors; by planning to rent space; by planning to advertise the event; and by planning to retain any profit realized from the event,” the opinion said.

In response to the board’s determination, the court said Cristea claimed that an intention to plan one event “was not enough to constitute positive steps toward self-employment.”

The Commonwealth Court disagreed with the board’s argument that Cristea should be classified as self-employed simply because she initially asked the IRS to issue her an EIN under the name “Eventions.”

Specifically, the Commonwealth Court cited a ruling it made in a previous case “concluding that the (previous) claimant’s activities were more akin to a sideline activity than self-employment.”

By simply requesting an EIN and making plans to host one bridal event, the court said “we find claimant’s actions are much more closely aligned with those cases finding insufficient evidence of self-employment.”

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