Michigan lawmakers look to change unemployment system

MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Michigan lawmakers are working to figure out how tens of thousands of people on unemployment across Michigan were wrongly accused of fraud.

On Monday the House Oversight Committee announced it had created a work group to look into the problem.

On Tuesday, Michigan Democrats unveiled their own proposal, this one aimed at fixing the system.

Michigan Democrats are saying the UIA made 50,000 false accusations of fraud against 40,000 workers. They say that 93 percent of those allegations have been false, and something needs to be done.

Attorney Jennifer Lord is representing thousands of Michigan workers in a class action lawsuit. She says she’s never seen anything like this case.

“I’ve been practicing more than 23 years and the number of victims involved, the various types of harms, it blows my mind,” said Lord.

Lord is trying to gain justice in the courtroom for tens of thousands of workers who were wrongfully accused of unemployment fraud.

She’s hoping the families she represents will get compensation and help them restore their credit scores so things can go back to normal.

“I’m here to hopefully shine the spotlight, keep the focus on the workers who were harmed by a computer that just spun out of control,” said Lord.

“The Unemployment Insurance Agency is one hundred percent at fault,” said Sen. Jim Ananich, D-Flint.

Senator Ananich and his fellow Democrats say the fraud allegations cost Michigan workers not only benefits, but out of pocket penalties and fees.

“When the government tells you you are committing a crime, that you committed fraud, and they steal your money, which is basically what happened here, 40,000 individuals, many cases more than one time, you need to make that whole,” said Sen. Ananich.

To fix the problem, Democrats are proposing sweeping changes to the state agency. They want to provide fraud reimbursement and tax deductions to victims.

And while lawmakers try to right a wrong in Lansing, Lord is fighting the battle in the court room.

“This is not over, it’s not done,” said Lord. “The agency is pretending that it is done, but people’s living wages are being garnished every single week.”

The UIA made news again in February when it was revealed that the personal information of two million Michiganders could have been compromised by the state’s computer system.

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