Summer School Recess is Not Unemployment

Summer breaks from school are just that, a vacation, a hiatus and not unemployment, a California appeals court ruled Monday.

Twenty-six substitute, who worked on an as-needed basis, sued the California Unemployment Appeals Board and the San Francisco Unified School District because their unemployment benefit claims were denied for the summer months in 2010-11.

The First District court of Appeals said that the teachers were not entitled to pay for the periods school was not actually in session during the summer.

“We are not unsympathetic to the loss of wages incurred during periods of academic hiatus,” wrote Justice Robert Dondaro. “However, in effect what the claimants in this case are requesting is that the government should provide them with a full year’s income because they have agreed to work and be paid for only 41 weeks each year,” he said.

The United Educators of San Francisco (UESF), representing the group of teachers, argued that they were eligible for benefits between May 2011 and August 2011 because the district did not provide reasonable assurance of employment for the 2011 summer session, instead only promising jobs in the fall school year.

The state Employment Development Department denied the jobless claims, only to have an administrative law judge reverse the EDD. The case went to the Unemployment Appeals Board, which reinstated denial of the benefits.

The board cited state law that treats the summer session as a “recess period,” and thus limits unemployment benefits for public school employees.  The case went to a state trial court, which agreed that no benefits applied.

The appeals court agreed, citing state law that summer school was not intended as an academic term.

Case: United Educators of San Francisco v. California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, No. A142858


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