Florida’s 2011 unemployment law hurts minorities, disabled, Labor Dept. findsby John Kennedy | April 25th, 2013
Florida’s 2011 unemployment compensation law, which makes those seeking benefits file online and complete a skills test, is run so poorly it effectively discriminates against minorities and the disabled, the U.S. Department of Labor has found.
The National Employment Law Project, Florida Legal Services and Miami Workers Center challenged Florida’s law in 2011, charging that sweeping changes to how Florida workers must file claims have denied unemployment checks to thousands of eligible Floridians.
Critics also said that frustration with the system may be aiding Scott’s goal of reducing unemployment. Some workers may abandon their job search or just leave the state, falling out of Florida’s labor market.
Florida’s unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent last month, its lowest point in three years.
“The decision by the USDOL Civil Rights Center is a victory for Florida’s unemployed workers with disabilities or limited English proficiency, who have been shut out of the system by the onerous online requirements,” the workers’ organizations said Thursday in a statement.
They said the state has entered into negotiations with the federal government to reach voluntary compliance with the ruling, and put in place remedies to make unemployment insurance available to job-seekers unable to complete online claim requirements.
Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity, which oversees the unemployment compensation program, said this:
“DOL was aware of the legislative changes to the reemployment system before its passage in 2011 and provided no objection. Now a different division within DOL, in response to questionable allegations by a special interest group, is challenging those very same laws.
“ Nevertheless we are committed to working with our federal partner to ensure that Florida’s economy continues to grow.”