Designed to Exclude: New York’s Failure to Provide Compensation and Language Access to Unemployed Workers
Designed to Exclude: New York’s Failure to Provide Compensation and Language Access to Unemployed Workers is a report by the National Center for Law and Economic Justice which details the New York State Department of Labor’s (NYSDOL) failure during the COVID-19 pandemic to make unemployment insurance accessible to workers who have limited English proficiency. In the pandemic, community organizations became the only access point to unemployment benefits for New York’s 2.5 million workers with limited English proficiency. Those who did not find community organization assistance were denied benefits, turned to food banks, resorted to homeless shelters, and went hungry.
For the first year of the pandemic, NYSDOL did not translate its website and the unemployment application into any languages other than English. In violation of federal and state law, few vital documents have been translated into New York’s six most frequently spoken languages. This caused prolonged delays, inability to access benefits, and wrongful denials to New Yorkers with limited English proficiency to a lifeline of support—unemployment benefits—during an historic crisis when unemployment skyrocketed.
Amidst NYSDOL’s failures, community-based organizations stepped in to provide thousands of hours of interpretation, translation, and assistance.
Designed to Exclude pulls together interviews with workers and leaders of more than a dozen immigrant-serving organizations in New York State and a review of documents and data. The report outlines key policy recommendations to ensure New Yorkers who speak the state’s top ten languages will be able to access the unemployment benefits they deserve.
Watch a press and advocacy briefing about the report