California Employment Law
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I'm not sure what you mean about what recourse you have (as that is normally a question made about possible rights violations), but you could state that you did not believe that the freelance work that you did not actually constitute 'work' since you were not employed.
Due to your past situation, however, when you did report this income on your claim forms, this would definitely be a difficult argument to maintain, but it is possible.
Also, not everyone reads what they sign, so the mere fact that you did sign does not attest to the fact that you actually knowingly did so and were 'lying' to EDD by stating that you had not done any work.
Finally, you can just claim ignorance that that was what you were signing and that you were unaware that freelance work needed to be reported to EDD.
Well - I have reported free-lance projects before, so I knew. I can only say that I forgot about reporting free-lance once I was back on unemployment and that I carelessly signed the forms and mailed them in a rush. I have made several mistakes on forms before and had the checks held up. I did report one small stipend in November, but I had very formal documentation on it as it was a government agency.
There were 2 instances where there may have been confusion as to whether the extensions were exhausted or not. But my records are not that exact.
It might help that I certainly did report the temp work, as I was employed It was after that job finished that I did a few free-lance projects and forgot. But forgetting still seems pretty lame. But I hope it will help to show that I did not intend to neglect reporting since I will report it first to them up front and pay back. Could that help or trigger further investigation?