AALDEF Legal Director Kenneth Kimerling said, “We are pleased that the transition arising from the settlement agreement is complete. We look forward to working with the New York State Department of Labor in its efforts to ensure equal access for all communities.”
For additional information on the settlement agreement between the State
Department of Labor and AALDEF, see “NYS Department of Labor Expands Automated
Voice System to Serve Chinese-Speaking Unemployment Insurance Recipients,”
October 11, 2006:
Release from the NYS Department of Labor
For Immediate Release:
April 5, 2007
NYS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR COMPLETES TRANSITION TO ONLINE AND TELEPHONE-BASED SERVICES FOR CHINESE-SPEAKING UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE RECIPIENTS
Agency announces new Bureau of Immigrant Workers Rights
State Commissioner M. Patricia Smith today announced that the Department of Labors efforts to provide meaningful access to assist Chinese-speaking unemployment insurance claimants through online and telephone-based services are now in place. She also announced that addressing the needs of immigrant workers will be one focus of the department in the new Spitzer Administration.
A newly created Bureau of Immigrant Workers Rights will work to address the growing needs of immigrant workers throughout the state, to ensure that the Labor Departments programs are responsive to immigrants needs. It will work on programs ranging from unemployment insurance to wage and hour enforcement, under the oversight of Terri Gerstein, Deputy Commissioner of Labor for Wage Protection and Immigrant Services.
Additionally, Commissioner Smith announced that the unemployment insurance services provided at 250 Schermerhorn Street in Brooklyn and at 138-60 Barclay Avenue in Flushing have been phased out. Claimants were sent three notification letters prior to the completion of the phase-out. They are now encouraged to use the Department of Labors telephone or Internet claims systems. Since the discontinuation of in-person filing at the Brooklyn location, the department has seen an increase in the number of unemployment insurance claims filed using the telephone and the Internet.
Through our agreement with the Chinese Staff and Workers Association and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, we have taken enhanced measures to ensure that Chinese-speaking citizens have the resources they need to file unemployment insurance claims through the telephone claims centers, Commissioner Smith said. We will continue to work with these organizations to address any necessary improvements to the system, which offers claimants greater convenience.
Individuals with questions regarding unemployment insurance claims should call toll-free to 1-888-209-8124. Callers will be given the option to follow Chinese language voice prompts to speak to someone in Cantonese or Mandarin. The department has multilingual staff members, but if they are busy assisting other claimants, a qualified interpreter will be brought onto the line. Claimants may also have a friend, relative or other person assist them with the call, but they must be present when the call is made.
Claimants do not need to pay for a translator, Commissioner Smith continued. We offer interpretation services free of charge. I caution claimants to beware of unscrupulous individuals who may try to charge them for providing translation assistance for their claim. Our telephone system is designed to enable individuals to file on their own, regardless of their native language.
The department provides free interpretation services in more than 150 languages. The current telephone claims system offers automated prompts in Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Russian and Creole.
Since September 10, 2006, unemployment insurance benefit payments have been issued via Direct Payment Cards. Chinese-speaking claimants are issued information about the Direct Payment Cards, including a welcome packet and a comprehensive claimant handbook, in Chinese. Chinese-speaking claimants are also able to obtain information about the Direct Payment Cards in Chinese on the departments web site. In addition, JPMorgan Chase has modified the voice prompts on its customer service line to include the same options for Cantonese and Mandarin as are provided by the departments telephone claim system.