West Hollywood Cmty. Health & Fitness Ctr. v. CUIAB, 2014 WL 6852700 (Cal. Ct. App. 2014)

After leaving his job as a massage therapist at West Hollywood Community Health & Fitness Center (d/b/a “Voda Spa”), Mario Serban applied for unemployment benefits. The Employment Development Department sent Voda Spa a letter indicating that Serban had been an employee (and not an independent contractor) and that he had good cause to leave work, thus rendering him eligible for unemployment benefits. The California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (“CUIAB”) affirmed the administrative law judge’s ruling in favor of Serban, and Voda Spa sought administrative mandamus in court to challenge the decision. The trial court heard Voda Spa’s challenge to the conclusion that Serban had good cause to leave his work, but granted the CUIAB’s motion to strike all allegations challenging its determination concerning Serban’s employment status (based on the argument that a court cannot hear an action whose purpose is to prevent the collection of state taxes). The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s striking of the challenge to the CUIAB’s determination of Serban’s employment status and held that “in contrast to a challenge to a tax decision, a party may challenge a benefit decision.”