Normally, as freelance, you would not qualify for unemployment. I was working 60+ hour weeks at the office, no benefits, no sick time, etc… and expected to do more hours. After exactly 1 year, I was dismissed because the company policy was to hire after 1 year or get a replacement. Fortunately, I had full documentation of my hours and pay stubs going back the entire year and was able to prove that I had no other work opportunities because of their monopolization of my time.
The NYDOL is now aware of this practice being very prevalent in the fashion industry. They will help you.
Are you saying you can collect UI while freelancing?
You can’t collect UI while freelancing – but you can collect if your f/t contract gig dries up. For example, you’re freelance and reporting to an office site and working 40hrs / week. As long as you can prove that during your time there, you had no free time to work for anyone else. I worked for a company that wouldn’t give me an official f/t position with benefits and PTO, however, I worked 60-70 hours/wk for 11 months and had no opportunity to take on other projects…