Colorado unemployment law – talent agency not employer

Posted by: Mar 01, 2015By Brian Stutheit

In June 2014 an unemployment appeals hearing officer ruled that a talent agency which locates jobs for actors was an employer of those actors.  That talent agency was a client of Stutheit & Gartland.  The result of the hearing officer’s ruling required the talent agency to pay unemployment taxes retroactively for three years for dozens of actors it had helped to find work. The hearing officer mistakenly thought it was important that acting talent had to pay a commission to the talent agency when they got work, and that the talent agency provided training how to audition successfully.

We appealed to the Industrial Claims Appeals Office (ICAO), and this week received a ruling which overturned the hearing officer’s decision.   The ICAO held that the actors gave no service to the talent agency, so the agency could not be their employer.

Important facts were that the talent agency did not decide if an actor got an acting or modelling job.  That was the choice of the client to which the talent was referred.  It was also important that the clients, not the talent agency, set work hours, performance standards, and otherwise controlled how an acting or modelling job was performed.  The talent agency had no control over  performance of the work.

This decision should apply equally to sports agents, modelling agents and music agents.  Whether it protects a private employment agency is more uncertain.

The decision is entitled Division of Unemployment Insurance v. Marble Kids, Inc. Call us for a copy.

An agency helping others find jobs should do what it can to protect itself against liability to pay unemployment benefits if one of its clients files a claim, or for unemployment tax withholding.  We have drafted contract language to deter the Division of Unemployment from trying to assess our clients unemployment taxes.