LEGISLATIVE ACTION ALERT: Proposed UIA Bill Would End Robo-Fraud Attacks on Unemployment Claimants

Blanchard Media SpotlightThe Michigan State House Oversight and Ethics Committee has passed HB 4982 H-6 that would end UIA robo-fraud accusations and other abuses of the Michigan State Unemployment Agency.  If you, a family member, or your clients (for the lawyers out there) have been caught up in robo-fraud accusations and garnishments since 2012, you should read on.

Your help is essential to put an end to the Unemployment Insurance Agency’s abusive tactics of imposing fines and wage and tax garnishments against former unemployment claimants.   Michigan’s elected representatives need to hear your voice.  On a bi-partisan vote, the Michigan House Oversight and Ethics Committee recently passed House Bill 4982 H-6, a new bill to reform the states unemployment benefits laws.  It could be voted on by the full House of Representatives and may become law – if representatives take action right now.

What would the new bill do?

The proposed bill HB 4982 H-6 would amend the unemployment laws to:

  • Sec. 54 & 62 – Require individual review before making fraud determinations against UIA claimants and explicitly prohibits the use of computer systems as the sole mechanism to generate fraud accusations and impose fraud penalties.
  • Sec. 5a: Require that free hearing advocates will be made available to all those accused of fraud (contingent on an financial appropriation).
  • Sec. 32:  Require all new UIA claimants will receive notices about rights and responsibilities in the system. 
  • Sec. 32a:  In most circumstances the Agency will be allowed to consider requests to reopen a UIA fraud determination within 3 years, instead of the current 1 year limitation.
  • Sec. 32a – For fraud determinations, the Agency will be required to send a second notice of fraud determination by certified mail if claimant doesn’t receive or respond to first first notice in 30 days.
  • Sec. 48 – Prohibits Agency  “income smoothing” assumptions that are currently used to attribute  quarterly income reported by an employer as earned in equal portions over all 13 weeks of the benefit period. 
  • Sec. 62 – Except in the case of identity theft, it would reduce the time period for which the Unemployment Agency can review old claims to make fraud determinations from 6 years to 3 years.House Testimony

What can I do to help?

There is a lot of work to yet to be done to turn this bill into law before the end of the current session. Your help is urgently needed:  

  1. Please email or call your state representative. Not sure who? Find your representative here.  You should personalize your message by telling your state representative why this is important to you, your family or your clients.  Urge him/her to “Please vote YES on HB 4982 H-6 as it passed committee, and please reject any amendments that would dilute or weaken the bill.”  As always, you should include your snail mail address and keep it concise and polite.  It will only take 5-10 minutes of your time.
  2. Go to the Facebook group, “Stop MI UIA Robo-Fraud Abuse,” and sign up to help people get engaged and stay informed.
  3. Follow the Blanchard & Walker PLLC Facebook page for legislative updates, the pending federal court lawsuit, and other employment rights developments for Michigan workers.
  4. Tell your friends, neighbors, and clients that there is an option, the state representatives have clearly heard the voices of thousands who have fallen victim to computerized robo-fraud accusations and penalties.   If we raise our voices louder, change is possible to ensure this never happens to anyone else.