Manukyan v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act
Although self-employment does not automatically disqualify a claimant from receiving benefits, if the self-employment renders the claimant unavailable within the meaning of C.G.S. §31-235(a)(2), then the person is not eligible for compensation. Armen Manukyan lost his position in a jewelry store in Jan. 2009 and began receiving unemployment compensation benefits. Armeny, LLC was formed using Manukyan's home address and listing his sister as the managing member. The LLC's business, Armeny Custom Jewelry Design, opened on Sept. 1, 2009. The administrator of the Unemployment Compensation Act investigated and, following a hearing, an adjudicator denied Manukyan unemployment benefits and made a recommendation for fraud overpayment and penalties. A referee affirmed the adjudicator's determination and dismissed Manukyan's appeal. The Employment Security Board of Review adopted the referee's findings of fact and added findings, including that the business is open seven days a week and Manukyan and his sister are the only people in the business. His sister has retail sales experience but she is not a jewelry designer and repairer, which is Manukyan's expertise. The board concluded that Manukyan was engaged in self-employment and was not genuinely attached to the labor market or available for full-time work as required by C.G.S. §31-235(a)(2) to receive unemployment benefits. Manukyan appealed. The Superior Court reversed the board's decision as arbitrary and found the board's ultimate conclusions were not supported by the findings of fact. The administrator appealed. The Appellate Court reversed the trial court's judgment. Because no timely motion to correct was filed, the board's factual findings were not subject to further review. The factual findings supported the conclusion that Manukyan was ineligible for benefits under C.G.S. §31-235(a)(2) because he primarily was devoting his time to his self-employment activities and not genuinely attached to the labor market or available for full-time work. There was a logical and rational basis for the board to conclude that Manukyan was self employed. Both local business publicity and business cards described him as the business owner. The board did not treat his business involvement as an automatic disqualification but looked at all of its factual findings. It was reasonable to conclude that someone has withdrawn from the labor market who is half of the labor force in a business open seven days a week.