News Release

US Department of Labor reaches voluntary conciliation agreement with Hawaii to improve language access to unemployment insurance

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor and the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations have entered into a voluntary conciliation agreement to ensure those with limited English proficiency and eligible non-U.S. citizens seeking to file claims for unemployment insurance benefits have better access to services.

The agreement follows an investigation by the federal department’s Civil Rights Center into complaints that the state’s UI program was failing to make its services fully available to those two groups. During the investigation, the state labor department offered to work with CRC to resolve the complaints amicably.

“This agreement symbolizes how federal and state governments can work together to improve access to government services for limited English proficient communities and others protected by civil rights law, particularly during these difficult times,” said Civil Rights Center Director Naomi Barry-Perez. “We appreciate Hawaii’s commitment to non-discrimination and its willingness to address these allegations affirmatively and cooperatively.”

To provide better access to LEP claimants and eligible non-U.S. citizens, DLIR has, among other actions, agreed to

  • Reinstate non-electronic methods of filing UI claims and appeals.
  • Ensure vital information is provided in select non-English languages as required by law.
  • Provide interpretation and translation services to individuals with limited English proficiency upon request or where otherwise required by law.
  • Ensure that its claims-filing system captures all the information needed to establish whether non-U.S. citizen applicants are eligible to receive UI benefits.
  • Train staff on the state’s citizenship- and limited English proficiency-related obligations under the laws enforced by the Civil Rights Center.
  • Periodically review the language assistance services provided by its offices to ensure that those services are timely, accurate and effective.

CRC enforces nondiscrimination laws that apply to the nation’s unemployment insurance program, as well as to other recipients of financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor and, in some circumstances, from other federal departments and agencies. For more information about the center, visit the Civil Rights Center’s website or call 202-693-6500 (voice) or 800-877-8339 (relay).

 

Agency
Office of the Secretary
Date
September 21, 2021
Release Number
21-1741-NAT
Contact: Michael Trupo
Phone Number
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