Neal, Murphy Raise Concerns to DOL Regarding the Florida Unemployment System’s COVID-19 Failures

Jul 1, 2020
Press Release
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and Ways and Means member Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) wrote U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Eugene Scalia to express their concern over the Florida unemployment system’s failure during the COVID-19 crisis and the hardship it has caused affected workers and families. Hundreds of thousands of Floridians who have applied for unemployment benefits with the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) still await their applications’ processing or full payment of their benefits.
“While the magnitude of the job losses resulting from the pandemic was unexpected, the failure of Florida’s unemployment system was not,” wrote Chairman Neal and Rep. Murphy. “For years, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) own measurements have shown that only a very small fraction of workers in Florida received unemployment benefits when they lost their jobs, even though nearly all worked for employers who paid unemployment taxes on their earnings. Workers and worker advocates repeatedly called attention to websites that locked them out or kicked them off, phone lines that were never answered, and other bureaucratic hurdles that prevented them from accessing benefits they earned through their work.”
Noting that “DOL is responsible for overseeing state programs and ensuring that they comply with federal unemployment insurance law,” Neal and Murphy asked that, by July 8, Secretary Scalia provide:
  1. Details (including dates) concerning whether DOL has penalized, investigated, or provided any type of notice for a benefit payment performance plan, corrective action, noncompliance, or conformity issues with respect to Florida DEO in order to protect the rights of Florida workers and enforce federal law.
  2. Information regarding what steps DOL has taken to date to address the current crisis for Florida workers, including ensuring that they receive all of the federal unemployment benefits authorized in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and that the state complies with worker access provisions that were a condition of the state funding provided in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Full text of the letter is available HERE.