A deputy Salt Lake County attorney won't appeal a Utah Department of Employment Security ruling that an unemployed man who listed occasional umpiring as a source of income is entitled to a percentage of unemployment benefits from the county.
Attorney Dick Nixon said he researched similar cases in other jurisdictions as well as in Utah and determined the department's ruling is consistent with the law. He said filing an appeal would just waste everyone's time.Last summer, a man applied for unemployment benefits because he was no longer employed on his regular job. On his application he listed as income some umpiring he had done for the county.
Before paying any benefits, the Utah Department of Employment Security sent questionnaires to 30 umpires, referees, scorekeepers and arbiters, who are among the 1,373 people who officiate, keep score or time for Salt Lake County sports programs. Department officials wanted to determine if the umpires were independent contractors or county employees.
Every two years, the umpires, referees, scorekeepers and arbiters sign a form stating they are independent contractors.
To qualify as an independent contractor, Utah law says a person must first show that he is not controlled by his employer. The second requirement is that the person is "established" in his profession and is free to perform the services for other employers, too. Being "established" in a profession implies having a business listing in the phone book and business license (if necessary) among other things.
Duane Price was director of unemployment insurance for the department at the time of the ruling, and he said field auditors determined the umpire met the first criterion of the law, but not the second, and therefore was eligible to receive unemployment compensation for the umpiring he had done.