Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission --
Summary of Wisconsin Court Decision relating to Unemployment Insurance

Subject: Leonard Piontek v. LIRC and Cooper Spransy Realty, Inc. , Case 10-CV-2020 (Wis. Cir. Ct., Dane Co., February 16, 2011)

Digest Codes: EE 409 - s.108.02(12)(a) - Is individual "providing services for pay" to putative employer; EE 410 - s.108.02(12)(bm); ET 483.01 - Excluded private employment

Claimant had a benefit entitlement based on previous full-time work as an employee for a manufacturing company. He also worked part-time as a real estate broker. He quit working for Cooper Spransy Realty in order to start worker as a broker for another realtor. The Department found that he had quit a job and his benefit eligibility was suspended. The claimant argued that he was working for Cooper Spransy as an independent contractor, because his realty services were not performed in an "employment" because it was excluded from "employment" by 108.02(15)(k)(7), and that therefore his quitting of that work was not covered by § 108.04(7)(a) and he was not ineligible.   LIRC's decision concluded that the definition of "employee" includes individuals engaged in work that is excluded from the statutory definition of "employment" 

Held: Affirmed. The court gives "great weight" deference to LIRC's interpretation and application of §§ 108.04(7)(a), 108.02(12)(a), and 108.02(12)(bm). Statutory changes made to the definition of "employee" in 2005 remove the requirement that services be performed in "employment." Although claimant's work for Cooper Spransy was excluded from the definition of "employment" under § 108.02(15)(k)(7), "employment" is not a precondition to classification as an "employee". Where the legislature has amended a statute to remove a term, it would be unreasonable for LIRC to read it back in. In the statutes, "employment" and "employee" are independent concepts.

Appealed to the Court of Appeals.  Affirmed, Leonard Piontek v. LIRC and Cooper Spransy Realty, Inc., Appeal No. 2011AP690 (Wis. Ct. App., March 29, 2012) (unpublished opinion authored by a member of a three-judge panel; see, Rule 809.23(3)(b))

Please note that this is a summary prepared by staff of the commission, not a verbatim reproduction of the court decision.

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