PUBLISHED January 2016
This case involves whether school employees who don’t work all 12 months (e.g., substitute teachers and 10-month classified employees) are eligible for unemployment benefits during the summer. The issue here is the interpretation of Unemployment Code section 1253.3(b) and (c), which both state that unemployment benefits “are not payable to any individual . . . during the period between two successive academic years or terms . . . if there is a contract or a reasonable assurance that the individual will perform services for any educational institution in the second of the academic years or terms.” The key phrase is the meaning of “academic years or terms.” The union argued that the summer school session should be seen as part of an "academic year or term" rather than in between "two successive academic years or terms." But the Superior Court rejected this reasoning based on the plain reading of the statute and held that the claimants either had a contract or a reasonable assurance of employment for the fall academic year. The judge also found that the legislative history of the statute supported this reading of the statute.
CUIAB is also involved in the appeal because it had previously held that a school-term substitute employee who is available, eligible, and on a list to work during summer school is not precluded from obtaining unemployment benefits if he/she is unable to get a summer school position. CUIAB reasoned that such substitute employee is not on recess during summer but unemployed for lack of work, which would make her/him eligible for unemployment benefits. Based on legal analyses stated above and its conflict with the Superior Court's ruling, the judge invalidate the previous decision.
The statewide interest here is clear – paying unemployment benefits for employees over the summer would present a huge financial burden to districts.
The ELA filed its amicus brief on November 30, 2015 in support of San Francisco USD.