July 29, 2015
By Stephanie West
New York, NY – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has announced a settlement agreement with On Location Education, Inc. for penalizing a teacher after she filed for unemployment insurance benefits. The company provides teachers to educate children on location at film, theater, television and other productions.
Under the settlement, On Location Education agreed to discontinue an arbitration claim for over $30,000 against the teacher who filed for benefits. It also agreed to remove contract provisions requiring teachers to waive the right to file for unemployment benefits and to indemnify the company if their benefit claims were denied.
“Unemployment insurance is such a critical safety net that the law does not allow workers to waive their right to apply for benefits.” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. “My office will keep fighting to ensure that companies are playing by the rules when it comes to workers’ rights. Unemployed workers should not have to worry that an employer will sue them if their benefit claims are denied.”
Under New York State's Unemployment Insurance Law, agreements to waive any rights under the law are void and invalid, and cannot be enforced. Those rights include the right to file for unemployment benefits, even if the claim is ultimately denied.
An investigation by Attorney General Schneiderman’s office revealed that since at least 2006, On Location Education has required teachers to waive their right to file for unemployment benefits. Since 2013, its contracts have required teachers to indemnify the company if their claims for unemployment benefits were denied. In 2014, the company filed an arbitration claim against a teacher in New York City after her claim for unemployment benefits was denied.
Under the settlement, On Location Education agreed to remove the waiver and indemnity provisions from its contracts. It also agreed to discontinue the arbitration claim against the teacher and agreed not to pursue indemnity claims against any other teachers whose benefit claims are denied.