October 5, 2015, Royal Oak, Mich. -- Former Michigan Compensation Appellate Commissioner Neal A. Young has joined the legal team suing the state's Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA). Young, who served on the Commission for over 20 years, will be working with attorneys from Royal Oak law firm Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers which brought the lawsuit against the state on behalf of Michigan workers. The complaint, filed last month in Michigan Court of Claims, alleges the UIA's automated processing system erroneously flagged large numbers of worker claims as fraudulent or improper and then illegally seized millions of dollars in tax refunds owed to them. (Link to original complaint: http://pittlawpc.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Bauserman-Complaint-time-stamped-9-9-15.pdf) "As a commissioner, I fought the type of UIA abuse detailed in this lawsuit on a case- by-case basis. Now that I'm in a better position to help, I look forward to working with the lawyers from Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers to end the agency's unconstitutional practices and illegal tax refund seizures once and for all," said Young. In his work as a compensation appellate commissioner, Young reviewed thousands of unemployment benefits appeals filed by Michigan workers and employers. During his tenure as a commissioner, Young had often objected to determinations of worker claims being made entirely by UIA computers. There are several other new developments reinforcing the claims of this class-action lawsuit against the State of Michigan including: -cont.- -2-
- On Oct.1 a memo from the U.S. Dept. of Labor was issued to all state unemployment agencies reminding them to protect individual rights of claimants in procedures to recover overpayment of unemployment compensation. The directive also stated that states may not make determinations of overpayments and/or fraud using automated systems without the input of agency staff. The class-action lawsuit alleges that Michigan UIA utilizes these same illegal practices. (Link to Dept. of Labor memo: http://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/corr_doc.cfm?DOCN=5763)
- Two weeks after the class-action lawsuit was filed, the Michigan UIA notified the lead plaintiff (Grant Bauserman) in the suit that it had reversed its earlier determination that he had fraudulently accepted unemployment benefits. The UIA notification did not mention the return of Bauserman's illegally seized income tax refunds. (PDF file of UIA re-determination notice attached.)
According to Kevin Carlson of Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers, the Dept. of Labor memo, Michigan UIA's redetermination that his client did not commit fraud and Young's joining the legal team are all positive developments for the lawsuit. "Having Neal bring his years of specific experience to our cause will be a tremendous benefit to our position and our clients. Plus, the Department of Labor memo directed all the states, including Michigan, to discontinue the very same illegal practices we outlined in our lawsuit. Along with the rather sudden reversal of Mr. Bauserman's determination after we filed suit, this is more validation that our case is very strong," said Carlson. Carlson said an informational meeting for UIA claimants interested in joining the case will take place at 6:30 p.m., October 6, 2015 at the Baronette Renaissance Hotel, 27790 Novi Road, Novi, Mich., 48377. For more information on the class-action lawsuit, go to www.uiafraudclassaction.com. About Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers is Michigan's largest law firm specializing in the representation of individuals in employment and civil rights litigation. Its attorneys advocate for clients in a wide range of actions, including discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, wage and hour and whistleblower claims. www.pittlawpc.com.