Politics & Policies

Florida / Unemployment Regime Violates Civil Rights Says DOL

Florida violated federal civil rights law with its new and unusual requirement that unemployment claimants file online and take math and reading tests before they can receive benefits, the U.S. Labor Department determined this month.

The department’s Civil Rights Center’s initial determination lays out the problems some non-English speakers and people with disabilities have encountered seeking benefits. For instance, details omitted from translated material “constituted a failure to provide meaningful access” to vital information, the department found. And when people called for help, they couldn’t get through.

“A broken phone system coupled with no meaningful alternative to the online processes left many unemployed Floridians effectively shut out from much needed unemployment insurance,” Valory Greenfield, an attorney with Florida Legal Services, said Thursday. Greenfield’s group filed the complaint on behalf of the Miami Workers Center, a nonprofit that advocates for low-income and minorities in Florida.

The workers center filed its complaint in November 2011 after Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed into law reforms that made Florida’s unemployment system the stingiest in the nation. The complaint is similar to one filed by the National Employment Law Project charging that the reforms made it too difficult for workers to receive benefits. The second complaint is still pending.

A spokesman for the U.S. Labor Department said the department “is now working with the state of Florida to ensure that all persons who have limited English proficiency or have disabilities, and who are eligible for unemployment compensation, have fair and meaningful access to those benefits.”

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor

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via Florida Unemployment Regime Violates Civil Rights Requirements: Labor Department.

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