The Indiana Department of Workforce Development is trying to speed up the process for resolving disputes about unemployment eligibility by making unscheduled phone calls. Lawyers say making the process faster could be a good thing, but worry it could have unintended consequences.
When DWD tells a person they are ineligible for unemployment benefits, or that they’ve been overpaid benefits, that person can appeal the decision in front of an administrative law judge. But with the large amount of people appealing this year, that process has gotten backlogged.
DWD says judges will now make unscheduled phone calls, seven days a week, to workers and employers disputing an unemployment claim.
Kristin Hoffman directs Indiana Legal Services' Worker Rights and Protections Project. She said they have a lot of questions about how the process will work and if it could pressure claimants to go forward without legal counsel.
“They might be so desperate for benefits that they feel compelled to go forward without adequate preparation just because they get a phone call on a Saturday or Sunday,” Hoffman said.
DWD says if the claimants agree to waive a customary advance notice, the judge will make a decision in up to 14 days.