April 20, 2021
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is fighting to protect Michigan workers through an amicus brief before the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Appeals Commission.
The filing is in support of claimant Christine M. Holifield and argues that part-time workers, including disabled workers, are not categorically excluded from receiving federal CARES Act funds.
“Part-time workers often take the brunt of impact from economic hard times,” Nessel said. “Those who saw their hours cut by the pandemic are the very individuals whom Congress intended to assist by passing the CARES Act. Depriving them of unemployment benefits that are rightfully theirs does nothing but add to their hardship and therefore hurts Michigan’s economic recovery. ”
The brief respectfully asks the Commission to reverse the decision of the Administrative Law Judge, which found that part-time workers—including those who are disabled and who are unable or unavailable to work full time—are excluded from obtaining benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program of the federal CARES Act.
Nessel makes four key arguments in response:
1. There is no conflict between federal law and state law
2. Even if there is a conflict, under the conflict preemption doctrine federal law preempts
3. Even if the correct application of Michigan and federal law called for denial of benefits, such a result violates Title II of the Americans with Disabilities act as well as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
4. The loss of these federal funds hurts part-time Michigan workers and the State as a whole.
Oral argument in the matter is scheduled for Wednesday, May 5.