COVID-19 and Employment Practice – Q&A with Angela Walker

Attorney Angela Walker on COVID-19, advising employees, and the practice of law. This article was originally prepared for the Institute for Continuing Legal Education March 27, 2020.  The original post can be found here.

Angela Walker is a founding partner at Blanchard & Walker PLLC. Angela handles severance negotiations and career strategies for her clients. She has extensive experience with equal pay, sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and disability rights cases. Here, Angela shares some of her thoughts on practicing during this time, as well as her analysis of some of the biggest issues facing employees. Continue reading “COVID-19 and Employment Practice – Q&A with Angela Walker”

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

MDHHS: What should you do if you think you have been exposed?

Responding to the Coronavirus Outbreak as legal professionals means constant monitoring so that we can provide clients and callers with the most up-to-date information and advice possible.   The  Families First Coronavirus Response Act has temporarily expanded paid leave rights in two important ways: creating a paid sick leave benefit for certain workers affected by the outbreak and a 12 week paid caregiver leave for parents caring for minor children during school closures.  How does it work? Continue reading “Families First Coronavirus Response Act”

Michigan Workers and COVID-19: Updates and Resources

COVID-19 and Unemployment Benefits

Michigan Unemployment Benefits Expanded in Response to COVID-19 Outbreak

Confronting the COVID-19 outbreak has raised many questions among Michigan Workers, many are struggling with unique job interruption issues: lay-offs, work-stoppages, individual medical leave, or caregiver leave. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an Executive Order late Monday expanding or confirming unemployment eligibility for Michigan workers impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Continue reading “Michigan Workers and COVID-19: Updates and Resources”

Michigan Settlement Reached in Unemployment “Robo-Fraud” Lawsuit

Blanchard & Walker has obtained a far-reaching settlement with the state of Michigan regarding the past, present, and future handling of unemployment claims in Michigan.  We have fought this fight for nearly two years on behalf of our clients – the UAW, Detroit’s Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, individual UIA claimants – and on behalf of all Michigan workers.  Today, the Court confirmed an unprecedented settlement and restructuring agreement with the State.  Read it here: Zynda ORD 2017-02-02 Robo Fraud Settlement and Dismissal.   Here are some of the things that we have achieved today on behalf of Michigan UIA claimants:  Continue reading “Michigan Settlement Reached in Unemployment “Robo-Fraud” Lawsuit”

Federal Court Order Halts Collection Activity on Unemployment Robo-Fraud Cases

A Federal Court Order issued January 11 will halt income tax garnishments and other collection activity for unemployment “robo-fraud” victims until there is an individualized staff review and the fraud finding is confirmed. The Order, entered by stipulation on January 11, 2017, is a huge victory for our clients and for all those affected by faulty robo-fraud determinations from October 2013 to August 2015. Continue reading “Federal Court Order Halts Collection Activity on Unemployment Robo-Fraud Cases”

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? Continue reading “LEGISLATIVE ACTION ALERT: Proposed UIA Bill Would End Robo-Fraud Attacks on Unemployment Claimants”

Major Breakthrough in the Fight Against Unemployment “Robo-Fraud” Determinations as State Announces Plans to Review Old Determinations.

Since at least 2013, the Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance System has had its computers set on data-mining old claims data, sometimes going back up to six years, to find data discrepancies and automatically issue “Robo-Fraud” determinations against unemployment claimants.

Now, just more than a year after we filed the federal court lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s unemployment fraud accusations, the UIA is showing the first signs of a break under mounting pressure from multiple quartersHouse Testimony.  In April, the federal judge hearing the constitutional challenge issued an Order denying the State’s motion to dismiss and clearing the way for the case to move forward. Meanwhile in Lansing, Reforms to the State System are being contemplated in the Michigan Legislature, where attorney David Blanchard testified last week on the impact of the system for Michigan UIA claimants and on the need to strengthen protections.

Last week saw another major development Continue reading “Major Breakthrough in the Fight Against Unemployment “Robo-Fraud” Determinations as State Announces Plans to Review Old Determinations.”

Tracking Unemployment Robo-Fraud

Metro Times Cover Blanchard & Walker continues the march forward for unemployment claimants who find themselves subject to tax and wage garnishments for baseless fraud determinations.

A new order from Federal Court Judge Robert H. Cleland Zynda ORD 2016-03-29 (Order on MTD ) clears the way for the lawsuit to move forward challenging unemployment fraud accusations, as reported in a recent Metro Times Article. The new ruling in the UIA lawsuit rejects State of Michigan arguments seeking dismissal on immunity and standing grounds. Reforms to the Michigan unemployment system have been under review in the state legislature since 2015, but the legislature has yet to act.  But the proposed reforms still fall short of remedies needed. Continue reading “Tracking Unemployment Robo-Fraud”

UIA Fraud accusations – B & W Comments to Michigan State Legislature

Feb. 20, 2016.  After months of kicking a draft around – and nearly a year after defects in the Michigan UIA system triggered a federal lawsuit and put State administration on notice – the Michigan Legislature finally took up the issue of Unemployment Agency fraud accusations run wild.  Thursday (2/18) the State House Ethics and Oversight Committee held a last minute hearing to take testimony from the Unemployment Agency and from those who have been affected by the baseless fraud accusations in recent years.  Blanchard & Walker immediately went to work notifying the public and potential victims of robo-fraud accusations that the Michigan Legislature needs to hear from them:

“Over the years, we’ve heard from numerous victims of these practices who’ve had to fight against bogus fraud findings and unwarranted financial penalties from the UIA. Our state legislators need to hear from citizens who have been impacted.” Continue reading “UIA Fraud accusations – B & W Comments to Michigan State Legislature”

Media Spotlight on Allegedly Baseless Fraud Accusations Against Michigan’s Unemployed

Blanchard Media SpotlightThe federal lawsuit challenging the State of Michigan’s administration will certainly take months or years to wind through the courts.  The State has not yet responded and no ruling has yet to be made on the merits. Regardless, it is so important that Michigan’s unemployed know that people are working for their due process rights in the UIA system; and that baseless, robotic, accusations of fraud are not necessarily the result of anything they have done wrong. Continue reading “Media Spotlight on Allegedly Baseless Fraud Accusations Against Michigan’s Unemployed”