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Matter of Claim of Semus

Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Third Department
May 25, 2000
710 N.Y.S.2d 128 (N.Y. App. Div. 2000)


Decided and Entered: May 25, 2000.

Appeal from a decision of the Workers' Compensation Board, filed April 15, 1999, which ruled that an employer-employee relationship existed between claimant and the University of Rochester.

Buckner Kourofsky (Jacklyn M. Penna of counsel), Rochester, for appellants.

Segar Sciortino (Thomas Ferrazzi Ferris of counsel), Rochester, for Helen Semus, respondent.

Eliot Spitzer, Attorney-General (Claire T. O'Keefe of counsel), New York City, for Workers' Compensation Board, respondent.

Before: Crew III, J.P., Graffeo, Mugglin, Rose and Lahtinen, JJ.


During her enrollment as a doctoral candidate at the University of Rochester, claimant was selected to work as a research assistant in the University's Microbiology and Immunology Laboratory. After working in this capacity for several years, claimant began experiencing pain in her thumbs due to the repetitive hand motions involved in performing laboratory experiments. When claimant filed an application for workers' compensation benefits, a dispute arose as to whether an employer-employee relationship existed between claimant and the University. The Workers' Compensation Board ruled that the University exercised sufficient control over claimant's activities to establish an employment relationship. The University's application for full Board review was denied and this appeal ensued.

The determination of whether an employer-employee relationship exists is a factual issue for the Board to resolve and its findings in that regard must be upheld if supported by substantial evidence (see, Matter of Wint v. Hotel Waldorf Astoria, 251 A.D.2d 696, 697; Matter of Winglovitz v. Agway Inc., 246 A.D.2d 684, 685). Although no single factor is dispositive, relevant factors to be considered include the right to control the claimant's work, the method of payment, the right to discharge, the furnishing of equipment and the relative nature of the work (see, Matter of Fitzpatrick v. Holimont Inc., 247 A.D.2d 715, lv dismissed 92 N.Y.2d 888,lv denied 94 N.Y.2d 755; Matter of Long v. Schenectady County Young Men's Christian Asson. [YMCA], 227 A.D.2d 723).

Here, the record indicates that claimant received a full tuition waiver, a biweekly stipend from which Federal and State income taxes were withheld and free health insurance coverage in exchange for her work as a research assistant. Claimant testified that she performed her research duties using equipment provided by the University for at least eight hours per day, including many weekends, under the auspices of a department faculty member who controlled the type of experiments that claimant performed and could recommend that claimant be transferred from her position for unsatisfactory performance. Under the circumstances presented here, substantial evidence supports the Board's decision that an employment relationship existed between claimant and the University, notwithstanding that the record contains evidence that could support a contrary conclusion (see, Matter of Le Celle v. New York Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, 235 A.D.2d 694, lv dismissed 89 N.Y.2d 1085; Matter of Angelo v. New York State Assn. of Learning Disabled, 221 A.D.2d 832). Accordingly, the Board's decision is affirmed.

Crew III, J.P., Mugglin, Rose and Lahtinen, JJ., concur.

ORDERED that the decision is affirmed, without costs.

Summaries of

Matter of Claim of Semus

Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Third Department
May 25, 2000
710 N.Y.S.2d 128 (N.Y. App. Div. 2000)
Case details for

Matter of Claim of Semus

Case Details

Full title:In the Matter of the Claim of HELEN SEMUS, Respondent, v. UNIVERSITY OF…

Court:Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, Third Department

Date published: May 25, 2000


710 N.Y.S.2d 128 (N.Y. App. Div. 2000)
710 N.Y.S.2d 128

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