Homepage Showcase


Law group providing free unemployment assistance in Michigan

Screen Shot 2020-04-29 at 1.55.35 PM.png
Posted at 2:29 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2021-01-05 13:03:10-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — FOX 17 is still getting dozens of emails a day asking specific questions about unemployment insurance. There's a law group at the University of Michigan that's willing to help.

It's called the Workers' Rights Clinic at the U of M Law School. It's been working on unemployment claims for years and understands just how frustrating the process can be.

“So if you have a non-monetary issue now, it’s because of the way it was programmed in 2013,” said the group's director, Rachael Kohl.

Kohl says back in 2013 the UIA system was also calibrated to find fraud.

"They wrongly accused thousands of people of fraud with about a 94% error rate. So the tens of thousands of determinations they sent out, the agency was wrong 94% of the time. They didn’t do anything wrong," said Kohl.

That's something that the FOX 17 Problem Solvers team uncovered back in 2015. Because of that reporting, there were lawsuits against Michigan and the state change unemployment laws and how it handles claims. But issues are still there.

That's why Kohl and her team want to help.

“I’m also connected with the claimant advocates groups across the state and we are really trying to see if there are really any consistent or trending themes that we’re seeing," said Kohl. "We want to present that to the agency to say ‘hey look you need to come up with answers for these particular things because we’re seeing this over and over and over again.”

They're answers a lot of people are hoping for.

"And she said she was filing a form to have UIA call us directly, but it’s been an additional two weeks and we haven’t heard from anybody," said Kendall Odom.

Odom's boyfriend still can't file a claim. He made a mistake putting in his driver's license number.

He got through on the phone only to be told to call back and that the issue would be fixed soon. But the temporary name and password didn't work.

“If I get into it, it can bring be to tears we have a newborn baby that I had at the end of February we’re not lucky enough to have a savings right now. We don’t have a dollar to our name. I’m blessed because I have a bridge card, but outside of that and having amazing family I don’t know what to do,” said Odom.

She told FOX 17 that her lease is up in May and she's not sure what's next since she's been served eviction papers with a court hearing in June.

“Once the claim is in, I’ll be patient I understand that the entire state is going through this. I know it’s not an attack on me personally but it’s like, 'how long are we wait you know? We’ve already waited seven weeks'."

“We have so many people showing us that these are the problems, these are the issues that we’re seeing. and hopefully we can build a better unemployment system going forward but.. it’s just.. what we have right now.”

There are a couple ways you can get help.

If you’d like to reach the Workers’ Rights Clinic you can call (734) 936-2000 or email law-uic-info@umich.edu.