FILED: New Complaint against the Department of Labor (DOL) Underscores Unemployment Insurance (UI) Failures
NEW YORK— The National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ) sued the DOL for its continuing failure to comply with its legal obligation to produce responsive unemployment insurance (UI) records. The complaint was filed on Friday, December 17, and was served today.
“Governor Hochul promised a new era of transparency for New York, but the DOL continues to ignore its basic obligations to provide information to the public. The DOL is blocking information that is essential to ensuring that all eligible New Yorkers have prompt access to UI,” commented NCLEJ Attorney Katharine Deabler, who has been working on this case.
Throughout the pandemic, New Yorkers have experienced unprecedented delays and administrative hurdles to obtaining unemployment compensation, with some of the greatest burden falling on New Yorkers with limited English proficiency.
- The complaints have included lack of translation, long delays, wrongful denials, outdated technology, burdensome documentation requirements, and poor communication by the Department of Labor (DOL) staff. The delays cause inordinate financial, physical, and emotional stress to hundreds of New Yorkers, as the economic impact of the pandemic has left many with few options for income.
- To better understand the DOL’s operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, NCLEJ submitted a request for records to the DOL pursuant to New York’s Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”) on January 21, 2021. The request sought information, reports, data, and records regarding the DOL’s policies and procedures for the receipt and processing of unemployment compensation claims; accommodating claimants and applicants with limited English proficiency; and statistics regarding the number of unemployment compensation claims received and processed and agency staffing.
- Nearly a year has passed since NCLEJ submitted the Request. The DOL has failed to produce a single document or respond in any meaningful way to the request.
On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) was enacted by the federal government, creating and funding a number of programs including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (“PUA”) and Pandemic Extended Unemployment Compensation (“PEUC”). The COVID-19 pandemic caused an economic disruption of historic proportions, leading to skyrocketing claims for unemployment compensation.
With the pending holiday around the corner, NCLEJ urges immediate attention to ensure the release of this information and that no individual or family is denied unemployment insurance, at this time when the pandemic continues to create uncertainty on many workers.