Substitute teacher says previous gig-work is restricting her unemployment benefits

She filed back in March and still hasn’t been paid
Posted at 6:50 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 22:00:24-04

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tyne Appleton has yet to see any unemployment benefits since filing her application back in March and is now learning it could be because her work history designates her as “self-employed.”

Appleton has worked for the Rutherford County School system since September; so she considers herself far from “self-employed.” When schools officially closed their doors on March 13, Appleton was already preparing herself to file for unemployment.

Appleton tells us she works through a third-party called Advantage xPO, who hire out substitute teachers to various schools. It crossed Appleton’s mind that maybe this was the issue, but she says most of her colleagues had already been paid their unemployment benefits. Appleton credits the company for working as fast they did to provide notices, you could then hand to creditors or inquiring landlords.

The only difference Appleton could think of between she and her colleagues, is that in the months before becoming a substitute, she worked for UberEats and DoorDash. At the time, Appleton was pregnant with her now 7-month-old son, Kingston.

“When I was pregnant with my son, I was having pregnancy complications, so I needed a job that wasn’t full time,” said Appleton.

The unemployment application requires you list where you worked for the past 18 months, which means Appleton is still technically considered self-employed. When she filed for unemployment, the idea didn’t even cross Appleton’s mind, having been gainfully employed with a steady job for six months.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments have only recently begun for self-employed workers, but Appleton says there could be many others like herself falling through the cracks.

“I think about my kid and I want other people to think about this because there’s so many people out there with children and if I didn’t have a plan in place already using my savings, then next week I wouldn’t know where I would be,” said Appleton.

Appleton says when she contacted the state’s unemployment offices for help, she was told to file a wage protest for back in March. She says most of her colleagues did the same and still managed to get paid. Appleton says she’s now concerned the protest may have set her claim back even further in line.

“At this point I don’t know if I will ever see any money,” said Appleton.

State officials say even if you filed for unemployment under the wrong designation, they will use your work history as far back as 18 months, as reference.

In a statement provided by the Tennessee Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development, they say, “the state paid tens of thousands of PUA claims over the weekend with payments depositing today and the rest of the week. We continue to pay those claims and should be completed this week.”


See all our coronavirus coverage here


What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.