The physical world trumps the virtual one, at least where unemployment benefits are concerned. So ruled a unanimous New York Court of Appeals in rejecting an unemployed Florida telecommuter who sought benefits in the Empire State, where her company was based.

When she moved to Orlando, Fla., Maxine Allen negotiated with her employer, the news service Reuters, to keep her job in the information technology department. The arrangement did not work out to Reuters' satisfaction, however, so it offered Allen her job back in New York. Allen declined the offer to move again. But when she filed for unemployment in Florida, she was rejected because she had voluntarily left her job. That led her to try to collect in New York state, on the novel argument that her service was "realized, and therefore localized" at the company's mainframe computer on Long Island.

In its ruling, the New York court dismissed Allen's claim, finding that "unemployment has the greatest economic impact on the community in which the unemployed individual resides." In other words, Allen is Orlando's problem. Employment attorney Eve Rachel Markewich, at Blank Rome LLP in New York City, agrees with the recent decision. "Florida has the greatest interest in helping her through the period of unemployment," Markewich notes.