DEO Press Releases

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Asks Congressional Committee and Inspector General to Investigate Improper Politicization at the United States Department of Labor

Jun 05, 2013
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Contact: DEO Communications

Statement from Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO)

TALLAHASSEE - Today, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity responded to the U.S. Department of Labor’s (USDOL) April 5, 2013, allegation that Florida’s Reemployment Assistance (RA) program discriminates against persons with limited English proficiency and disabilities. After carefully considering USDOL’s allegations, DEO has concluded that the USDOL investigation appears to have relied on insufficient evidence, fell far below professional standards, and may have been politically motivated.  Accordingly, while DEO will continue to work to improve the RA program, it rejects the findings in the Initial Determination and has called for the USDOL’s Inspector General and an appropriate Congressional oversight committee to investigate the politicization of the USDOL investigatory unit at issue.

The Initial Determination is seriously flawed, resulting from a questionable investigatory process that was calculated to have reached a predetermined result.  Rather than serving as a neutral arbiter of allegations, USDOL collaborated with a political group to direct evidence of a predetermined outcome.  At most, USDOL’s “evidence” fails to demonstrate anything other than anecdotal instances of system errors, which can be reasonably expected to occur in a program that has over 1,000 employees and processed 668,664 new claims and 3.4 million calls during the calendar year 2012.  But there is simply no justification for the sweeping allegation that Florida’s RA system broadly discriminates against persons with limited English proficiency or disabilities.  That allegation, by a federal agency, recklessly maligns the reputations of hundreds of hard-working DEO employees, who come to work each day to fulfill a mission of helping unemployed Floridians get back to work.  DEO and its employees are succeeding in that mission: Florida’s job growth and unemployment decline are consistently outpacing national averages, and our RA system has, for many Floridians, provided a successful bridge from unemployment to new opportunities in our growing economy.

In sum, rather than serving as an impartial, arms-length arbiter of federal law, USDOL appears to have engaged in a politicized investigation with a predetermined outcome.  Because this is unacceptable for a federal agency, DEO has asked the USDOL Inspector General, and Congress, to review the USDOL’s conduct.

Excerpts from the Requests to Investigate USDOL

rather than neutrally enforcing the law and acting as an impartial arbiter of complaints— [USDOL] collaborates with political advocacy groups to initiate complaints and allegations of noncompliance with USDOL laws and regulations.” 

“the Initial Determination relies on test calls that were orchestrated by MWC [Miami Workers Center] attorneys, not by the USDOL; yet USDOL accepted them at face value, without further inquiry.

USDOL[s] CRC’s Acting Chief of External Enforcement has publicly stated or endorsed the notion that she brings a political and ideological agenda to her civil-rights enforcement role in the federal government.”

“had USDOL neutrally reviewed readily accessible data, it would have found that the languages in which DEO’s online claims are successfully filed accurately represent Florida’s population.”

“leaping from a single allegation to conclusions about other hypothetical instances and then about the entire system—would not pass muster in a first-year college statistics class, much less in a supposedly impartial and careful federal investigation.”

“USDOL’s willful disregard of statistically significant evidence, in favor of unsworn anecdotal evidence, suggests that political and ideological bias has manifested itself in USDOL’s investigation.”

“USDOL has refused to act in a cooperative manner.  It has repeatedly withheld documents,…”

“[USDOL] advised DEO attorneys to consider the public-relations implications of USDOL issuing a final determination in this matter and threatened to publicize such an action based on USDOL’s “new policy” to make public all final determinations.”

See attached document to read the requests sent to Congress and the IG to investigate USDOL for wrongdoing. 

Background Information

On April 5, 2013, the USDOL’s Civil Rights Center issued an Initial Determination to DEO in response to a complaint from a special interest group, Miami Workers Center. Changes to Florida law in 2011 required online filing for Reemployment Assistance, as well as completion of the Initial Skills Review. All proposals to amend the law were fully vetted with USDOL’s Employment and Training Administration, which is responsible for oversight of state operations of the Reemployment Assistance (RA) program. DEO worked with USDOL through the change in law and they found no conformity issue with federal unemployment compensation law and regulations. In an effort to be as accommodating as possible for all Floridians, those with limited English proficiency, those who are unable to read, and those with disabilities are exempt from these requirements.

USDOL’s Initial Determination claimed the online filing and Initial Skills Review requirements are discriminatory against those with limited English proficiency and those with disabilities, and demanded DEO to sign a conciliation agreement admitting to system-wide wrongdoing. After repeated requests, USDOL refused to provide all of the “evidence” relied upon to make these allegations. DEO asserts that the investigatory practices relied upon by USDOL to be improper, and is calling for an inquiry into how the investigation was conducted.

About DEO

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity combines the state’s economic, workforce and community development efforts.  This new approach helps expedite economic development projects to fuel job creation in competitive communities.  For more information, including valuable resources for employers and job seekers, please visit


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