Incoming 1L - Spotted Potential C&F Issue, Very Scared

Discussions related to the bar exam are found in this forum
Forum rules
Anonymous Posting

Anonymous posting is only appropriate when you are sharing sensitive information about bar exam prep. You may anonymously respond on topic to these threads. Unacceptable uses include: harassing another user, joking around, testing the feature, or other things that are more appropriate in the lounge.

Failure to follow these rules will get you outed, warned, or banned."
ProbablyWaitListed

New
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2018 2:24 pm

Incoming 1L - Spotted Potential C&F Issue, Very Scared

Post by ProbablyWaitListed » Thu Jun 18, 2020 4:24 pm

Hi everyone, I hope this is the right place to post this. I am going to be beginning law school this August and this month have had a potential Character and Fitness issue arise of which I am absolutely freaking out.

I am currently working part-time as a legal assistant at a law firm, and saw that I was eligible for the corona virus unemployment. I completed an application for unemployment, had it approved, and then certified for my first two weeks of benefits. However, my boss was furious with me. I had accidentally listed myself as a "part-time employee" on the unemployment application, when it turns out I am actually an "independent contractor" - my boss just writes me checks. I stupidly did not understand this distinction at the time I filed for unemployment. Thus, when my boss received the notice of my unemployment filing from the state, he mailed in a response to the state contesting it.

So right now, I am absolutely freaked out, because technically I took money from the government under false pretenses. I have attempted to call and email my state's unemployment office numerous times, first attempting to correct my application, and now simply trying to withdraw/cancel it. It has now been over two weeks, and I have received no response from anyone at the state unemployment office. I think their phone lines are inaccessible because of COVID. I am happy to pay the money I collected back, if that will help fix this issue.

I'm now panicking because I'm worried my entire bar application will be nuked because I made a false statement to the government, or collected money I technically was not entitled to. I am very very scared that I have ruined my life and will never become an attorney because of this stupid stupid mistake. I guess I'm looking for two things: (1) someone to brush my hair soothingly and tell me I'm overreacting (2) advice on how to best immediately and effectually address this situation.

Anonymous User
Posts: 348883
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Incoming 1L - Spotted Potential C&F Issue, Very Scared

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jun 18, 2020 4:34 pm

You're overreacting. It was an honest mistake, it will all be fine in the end. You had no intention of defrauding anyone. It's possible you may need to report this somewhere down the line, but an error isn't a C&F issue.

One possible issue: this is not legal advice, but there are very specific requirements to qualify as an independent contractor and not as someone's employee. Most legal assistants are not independent contractors. So it's possible your boss is upset because there's something on their end they might not be handling correctly...

ProbablyWaitListed

New
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2018 2:24 pm

Re: Incoming 1L - Spotted Potential C&F Issue, Very Scared

Post by ProbablyWaitListed » Thu Jun 18, 2020 4:44 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 4:34 pm
You're overreacting. It was an honest mistake, it will all be fine in the end. You had no intention of defrauding anyone. It's possible you may need to report this somewhere down the line, but an error isn't a C&F issue.

One possible issue: this is not legal advice, but there are very specific requirements to qualify as an independent contractor and not as someone's employee. Most legal assistants are not independent contractors. So it's possible your boss is upset because there's something on their end they might not be handling correctly...
Thank you so so so much. I have been freaking out in a state of panic all day. I absolutely never had any intention of defrauding anyone - I just saw that I qualified for the coronavirus money as someone with low hours, and thought I could get a little bit of extra money before law school starts. I'm fine with reporting my filing and the circumstances, but I hate that I'll have to disclose something dumb like this. But hey, I made my bed. It was just my boss was reaming me out today and mentioned something about the bar and how this would negatively impact me when I applied for it and it sent me into an absolute freak out panic spiral

And yeah I think part of his anger is that he isn't doing all the paperwork completely correctly. I supposed I was just an independent contractor because I'm going to file a 1099 on this income at the end of the year, and I guess that he never formally "hired" me. But seriously thank you so so much for the swift reply. I've been so scared and panicked over the past week or more over this, and it means a ton to have some give some reassurance.

Ultramar vistas

New
Posts: 87
Joined: Sat Jul 29, 2017 11:55 am

Re: Incoming 1L - Spotted Potential C&F Issue, Very Scared

Post by Ultramar vistas » Thu Jun 18, 2020 5:27 pm

ProbablyWaitListed wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 4:44 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 4:34 pm
You're overreacting. It was an honest mistake, it will all be fine in the end. You had no intention of defrauding anyone. It's possible you may need to report this somewhere down the line, but an error isn't a C&F issue.

One possible issue: this is not legal advice, but there are very specific requirements to qualify as an independent contractor and not as someone's employee. Most legal assistants are not independent contractors. So it's possible your boss is upset because there's something on their end they might not be handling correctly...
Thank you so so so much. I have been freaking out in a state of panic all day. I absolutely never had any intention of defrauding anyone - I just saw that I qualified for the coronavirus money as someone with low hours, and thought I could get a little bit of extra money before law school starts. I'm fine with reporting my filing and the circumstances, but I hate that I'll have to disclose something dumb like this. But hey, I made my bed. It was just my boss was reaming me out today and mentioned something about the bar and how this would negatively impact me when I applied for it and it sent me into an absolute freak out panic spiral

And yeah I think part of his anger is that he isn't doing all the paperwork completely correctly. I supposed I was just an independent contractor because I'm going to file a 1099 on this income at the end of the year, and I guess that he never formally "hired" me. But seriously thank you so so much for the swift reply. I've been so scared and panicked over the past week or more over this, and it means a ton to have some give some reassurance.
Yeah this is a non-issue. Agree that the boss’s anger is probably a projection of his/her own fear that they will be in some degree of trouble. Sincerely doubt you qualify as an independent contractor.

User avatar
blair.waldorf

Bronze
Posts: 255
Joined: Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:52 am

Re: Incoming 1L - Spotted Potential C&F Issue, Very Scared

Post by blair.waldorf » Thu Jun 18, 2020 5:54 pm

Not legal advice, but if it makes you feel better OP, my state's C&F form basically only asked whether you've been criminally charged/arrested/investigated or if you've been a party to civil litigation (i.e. been sued). There was no overarching question asking if you've ever accidentally or intentionally provided incorrect information. I'm pretty sure you are 100% okay unless your state actually prosecuted you for this (which they won't, you didn't intentionally do anything wrong).

Want to continue reading?

Register now to search topics and post comments!

Absolutely FREE!


dabigchina

Gold
Posts: 1807
Joined: Mon Jan 13, 2014 2:22 am

Re: Incoming 1L - Spotted Potential C&F Issue, Very Scared

Post by dabigchina » Thu Jun 18, 2020 6:03 pm

FYI OP, independent contractors generally have to pay more payroll taxes than employees. They have to pay the employer's portion of payroll taxes, in addition to their own. Be aware that you might get stuck with a higher tax bill.

smile0751

Bronze
Posts: 475
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2014 11:40 pm

Re: Incoming 1L - Spotted Potential C&F Issue, Very Scared

Post by smile0751 » Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:08 pm

Not legal advice but there is almost no way you’re an independent contractor. Take a look at the requirements for someone to be an Independent Contractor under the tax code and the consequences of your employer for potentially misrepresenting your employment. Then you’ll know why your boss was mad.

This seems to be a good summary of the law/penalties: https://justworks.com/blog/consequences ... ontractors

Winter is Coming

Bronze
Posts: 414
Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:51 am

Re: Incoming 1L - Spotted Potential C&F Issue, Very Scared

Post by Winter is Coming » Fri Jun 19, 2020 11:26 am

smile0751 wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:08 pm
Not legal advice but there is almost no way you’re an independent contractor. Take a look at the requirements for someone to be an Independent Contractor under the tax code and the consequences of your employer for potentially misrepresenting your employment. Then you’ll know why your boss was mad.

This seems to be a good summary of the law/penalties: https://justworks.com/blog/consequences ... ontractors
Agree, your boss is probably pissed because he is misclassifying you.

This may become a headache between you two and for taxes (if he is misclassifying you), but is almost certainly not a C&F issue. Even if you are in the wrong in terms of collecting, I can't imagine that any C&F reviewer would have an issue if you briefly explain what happened, immediately reached out to correct it, etc.

Obvious caveat that this is not legal advice.

ProbablyWaitListed

New
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2018 2:24 pm

Re: Incoming 1L - Spotted Potential C&F Issue, Very Scared

Post by ProbablyWaitListed » Sat Jun 20, 2020 1:31 pm

Thank you so so so much to everyone for the incredibly helpful advice! I've been in a state of panic ever since my boss somewhat ominously mentioned the repercussions my action might have for me on the bar, so everyone's reassurances have been much needed.

In terms of actions I've already taken:
(1) I've attempted to call my state's unemployment office numerous times to clarify the situation, but due to coronavirus I have been completely unable to reach anyone there
(2) I have submitted multiple requests in writing to my state's unemployment office without a reply, first to change my status to "independent contractor" as my boss indicated I should, and then once he changed his mind and said I should absolutely not claim money whatsoever, I have written twice to the unemployment office requesting to withdraw/close my claim with no reply for over a week. I have been keeping a written record of these communications, in case I ever need to clarify any of this to the bar. I think that's part of what makes this so tough - that it's been impossible to reach anyone at unemployment to address the situation because of the coronavirus overflow.
(3) When my biweekly certification date comes up next week (this is when you verify that all of the information on your application is and remains truthful, and claim your biweekly payment), I will simply not log on to the system to verify my claim, thus eliminating my ability to collect any more money on the claim. This really stings, because it is SO MUCH MONEY (nearly $1,600 every two weeks that I think I am legally entitled to right now), but I want to make sure I'm not doing anything to endanger my Character and Fitness and to avoid upsetting my boss any further.

Does anything think there are further, or different steps I should take?
Winter is Coming wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 11:26 am
smile0751 wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:08 pm
Not legal advice but there is almost no way you’re an independent contractor. Take a look at the requirements for someone to be an Independent Contractor under the tax code and the consequences of your employer for potentially misrepresenting your employment. Then you’ll know why your boss was mad.

This seems to be a good summary of the law/penalties: https://justworks.com/blog/consequences ... ontractors
Agree, your boss is probably pissed because he is misclassifying you.

This may become a headache between you two and for taxes (if he is misclassifying you), but is almost certainly not a C&F issue. Even if you are in the wrong in terms of collecting, I can't imagine that any C&F reviewer would have an issue if you briefly explain what happened, immediately reached out to correct it, etc.

Obvious caveat that this is not legal advice.
Interesting, thank you very much to both of you for sharing this information. I do feel absolutely terrible that I may have created problems for my boss - it has honestly made me sick to my stomach for weeks now. My only hope is because the money I receive is so little (averaging $150-$200 per week) that it won't really create any serious tax issues for him. Any sort of tax hit I will take on my end I think should also be inconsequential - I'm not sure I even make enough to report? But maybe I should do so anyways to be entirely above the board.

The funny part of all of this is that I included my wages from this employer in my unemployment filing BECAUSE of C&F concerns - I wanted to make sure I filed out my unemployment claim completely honestly, and that meant including the work payments I'm currently receiving. If I had just left off this income my boss apparently isn't reporting, I would have been in the clear... :(

Also, I'm currently holding on the unemployment benefit payment because I want to be able to pay the state back if that is the way this goes. I wonder, however, if that might have cascading issues, because why would I return a payment if it was legitimately received? God, I regret this whole situation so much. I also wish I could continue certifying, because the amount of money available to me is absolutely crazy - could be nearly 10 grand before school starts. But it looks like the most prudent move is to stop.

Last thing: is there a convenient way to quote multiple people on this forum?

Want to continue reading?

Register for access!

Did I mention it was FREE ?


nixy

Gold
Posts: 2557
Joined: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:58 am

Re: Incoming 1L - Spotted Potential C&F Issue, Very Scared

Post by nixy » Sat Jun 20, 2020 1:57 pm

You need to stop worrying about your boss. Any tax complications that result are his own fault for trying to characterize you as an independent contractor (and thus not have to pay taxes, workers comp, unemployment insurance, etc.). He is the employer hiring people to do stuff for him, it's on him to understand the conditions/requirements and make them clear to you.

sleeplessindc

New
Posts: 62
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2019 4:12 pm

Re: Incoming 1L - Spotted Potential C&F Issue, Very Scared

Post by sleeplessindc » Sat Jun 20, 2020 2:19 pm

ProbablyWaitListed wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 4:24 pm
I had accidentally listed myself as a "part-time employee" on the unemployment application, when it turns out I am actually an "independent contractor" - my boss just writes me checks. I stupidly did not understand this distinction at the time I filed for unemployment.
Not a criminal defense lawyer, this is not legal advice, and I have no idea which state you're in. But I don't see how your actions would fulfill the intent element of unemployment compensation fraud. (I would be shocked if that was a strict liability crime in your state.)

I echo the others in this thread suggesting that your boss is misclassifying the nature of your employment.

User avatar
blair.waldorf

Bronze
Posts: 255
Joined: Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:52 am

Re: Incoming 1L - Spotted Potential C&F Issue, Very Scared

Post by blair.waldorf » Sat Jun 20, 2020 3:41 pm

ProbablyWaitListed wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 1:31 pm

Also, I'm currently holding on the unemployment benefit payment because I want to be able to pay the state back if that is the way this goes. I wonder, however, if that might have cascading issues, because why would I return a payment if it was legitimately received? God, I regret this whole situation so much. I also wish I could continue certifying, because the amount of money available to me is absolutely crazy - could be nearly 10 grand before school starts. But it looks like the most prudent move is to stop.
You are worrying way, way too much. If you're entitled to the unemployment compensation (and independent contractors do qualify if they make so little as to qualify), then the state isn't going to make you pay it back because your boss is misclassifying you.

objctnyrhnr

Moderator
Posts: 1318
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2013 2:44 am

Re: Incoming 1L - Spotted Potential C&F Issue, Very Scared

Post by objctnyrhnr » Sun Jun 21, 2020 9:16 pm

To echo what a number have already said, but maybe to put it another way.

Your boss’s “declaring” that you’re an independent contractor is about as effective as Michael Scott declaring bankruptcy in that office episode.

Independent contractor law is a complex and ever changing issue. I’m not giving legal advice and I’m not going to tell you whether you are or you are not (and even if I wanted to give legal advice, I don’t think nearly enough info has been presented here to tell you).

Honestly if the money is that good and you’re only not taking it because of your own worry and your boss’s “declaration,” it might be worth throwing down 500 or 1k to get a bit of advice from a local employment lawyer.

Register now!

Resources to assist law school applicants, students & graduates.

It's still FREE!


Eternalsunshine

New
Posts: 77
Joined: Sun May 22, 2016 12:10 am

Re: Incoming 1L - Spotted Potential C&F Issue, Very Scared

Post by Eternalsunshine » Sun Jun 21, 2020 10:56 pm

OP, you're fine. This is NOT what the C&F police are worried about. You may have to explain the situation but it's not going to keep you from practicing.

Also, it sounds like your boss is a butt.

b290

Bronze
Posts: 345
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2017 5:28 pm

Re: Incoming 1L - Spotted Potential C&F Issue, Very Scared

Post by b290 » Tue Jun 30, 2020 11:44 pm

ProbablyWaitListed wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 4:24 pm
Hi everyone, I hope this is the right place to post this.....
You have nothing to worry about. Actually you’re in a great position because you’ll now be on the lookout for potential C&F issues later. If you want, you can just pay back what you received and be done with it. But as others say, just because your boss protests doesn’t mean you’re in trouble.

Until the state sends you a letter saying that you owe it for money taken, it’s hard to say if there’s an issue. When that happens - pay whatever is asked and note that for your later application. That’s it. Good luck.

My $.02

Get unlimited access to all forums and topics

Register now!

I'm pretty sure I told you it's FREE...


Post Reply Post Anonymous Reply  

Return to “Bar Exam Prep and Discussion Forum”