The federal government has chastised the state of Florida because its policies violate the employee rights of many disabled unemployed individuals. Floridians whose first language is Spanish or Creole are also the subject of discrimination, according to the federal complaint, which has brought allegations dating back to 2011.
Authorities in the case allege that the state instituted a new policy three years ago requiring unemployment applicants to complete an online assessment before they could qualify for benefits. This system inherently discriminates against nonnative English speakers and those with disabilities, as well as people without access to the Web, according to investigators.
As a result, the states Department of Economic Opportunity has begun negotiations with federal labor regulators to improve the systems flaws. If the problems are not quickly corrected, the state could lose millions in federal funding related to unemployment benefits. State officials said they think some of the initial findings were erroneous, but they intend to continue cooperating with federal investigators. Strangely, the state says the federal Department of Labor was aware of the provisions in 2011, but they never argued against the system.
Recent reviews show that Florida ranks last in the nation for distribution of unemployment benefits to those who need it the most; about three-quarters of a million Floridians are currently out of work. This low recipiency rate has been largely blamed on the new system that required extensive work by unemployment applicants. These people were no longer permitted to use paper or telephone applications, and they had to answer a 45-question test before they were deemed eligible for benefits.
If you think you were wrongly denied employee benefits in the state of Florida, consider contacting a qualified employment attorney. These professionals can help you learn more about your rights and responsibilities in court, and they can guide you through the civil litigation process to help you get the money you deserve.
Source: miamiherald.com, “Feds blasts Florida???s unemployment compensation system for denying civil rights” Toluse Olorunnipa, Apr. 25, 2013