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I did not count a haircut (for which I was paid-- I am an actor) as a day of work- I don't think it was "Willful Misrepresentation". Hearing or no hearing?

by Paul
(Astoria, NY)

Hello- I'm a professional actor who works as often as possible and claims unemployment when work is scarce (like now). I often get film/TV jobs for 1-2 days at a time, which I diligently report to the NY DOL, which are then deducted from my benefits. This has been no problem as I have been following the rules... except I seem to have misinterpreted one of the rules, which has led to a small penalty of $34 and 8 days benefits-- If I don't want to go through the trouble of a hearing (as I am willing to accept the penalty), do I have to worry about this on my record? Should I request a hearing after all?


Simply put, I received a haircut for one of the film jobs I did, on a different day than the actual filming. As a SAG actor, I'm required to be paid for the haircut ($32). I showed up for less than 1 hour that day, and didn't consider it a day of work. I worked a full day on the film 2 days later, and accurately (or so I thought) reported that week as 1 day of employment.

HOWEVER, several months later I got a letter from the NYSDOL saying I worked 2 days that week and only reported 1. The form allowed me to respond with my explanation, so I explained it as best I could, indicating that I didn't think reporting for a haircut as an adjunct to a day of work consisted as a day of work-- which is why I didn't report it.

Several weeks after, I received a letter accusing me of Willful Misrepresentation-- despite my explanation in MY letter, which at the very least should have been interpreted as my honest mistake as to how to interpret "a day of work"! I was told to repay the $34 I was overpaid, and penalized 8 effective days of benefits.

Upon further (deep) digging into the NYSDOL rules, I found that even work of this sort is considered 1 day of work-- OK, so I made a mistake... why didn't the worker at NYSDOL realize that from my explanation?

I have no problem repaying the $34 (the 1 day I received benefits that I supposedly should not have), but
honestly, I do not feel that I deserve the 8-day penalty. And now, on top of it, I'm worried about being criminally prosecuted if I don't request a hearing to exonerate myself. Would they really prosecute something this small? Is failing to request a hearing an admission of my guilt? This is f'ed up...

I was not going to bother with a hearing, since I thought it might simply be more trouble than simply sucking up the 8 day penalty and repaying $34... I'd really rather avoid a hearing, especially since I could miss a potential day of work... but I don't want to face criminal fraud charges later down the line over a simple mistake.

Any idea how to approach this? I'm going to call the Call Center tomorrow, but expect to just hear, "You need to request a hearing, etc."

Thanks a lot!



Hi Paul,

As I was reading along .. a central recurring theme to my recent days came crashing in again .. and that would be that the states really are going broke and apparently are more concerned and more active in keeping money in the coffers than actually serving the purpose for which UI benefits were intended which is to provide economic stability to citizens rightly entitled to unemployment benefits.

I don't think they will "prosecute" you, but letting the willful misrepresentation determination stand allows them to deny you 8 days of benefits.

I would appeal simply because a hearing ALJ has the authority to modify a determination and it is the "willful misrepresentation" that the penalty is for.

I know I'm probably splitting hairs here or possibly just have a hair up my ass, but if they have the time and the fine tooth comb to detect such small and "inadvertent errors" in the interpretation of the rules .. they have the time to suffer the consequence of an overburdened and understaffed appeal process.

Section 1500

You've probably already called the department .. and I hope it went well as far as getting a redetermination, but that is not something I'd be willing to hold my breath waiting for.

Unemployment departments all across the country are forcing people to appeals in order to rectify the results a state's strategic plan to slow the flow from the funds.

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