Supreme Court Rules Time-Share Salesperson Excluded From Unemployment Benefits

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a Gatlinburg-area time-share salesperson is not entitled to unemployment benefits.

The salesperson had worked for several years selling time shares at Westgate Smoky Mountains under an independent contractor agreement. In 2009, Westgate terminated that business relationship and the salesperson filed a claim for unemployment compensation.

The Department of Labor considered whether the salesperson was subject to a law that excludes qualified real estate agents from receiving unemployment benefits. The Department concluded that time-share salespeople do not fall under the real estate agent exclusion and granted the benefits.

Westgate sought review from the Appeals Tribunal, which agreed the benefits should be paid, although for somewhat different reasons. Westgate advanced the matter to the Board of Review, which upheld the award of benefits.

Westgate then took the matter to the Chancery Court, which concluded that a time-share salesperson does fall under the real estate agent exclusion and therefore would not qualify for unemployment compensation. The salesperson took the case to the Court of Appeals, which reversed the trial court’s decision and granted the unemployment pay.

Today, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals and ruled that a time-share salesperson is a licensed real estate agent.  The Court also ruled that the salesperson met the exclusion for qualified real estate agents and was not entitled to unemployment benefits.

To read the unanimous Opinion in Westgate Smoky Mountains at Gatlinburg v. Burns Phillips, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, authored by Justice Janice M. Holder, visit the Opinions section of

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