CWR Places Limits on Fraud Accusations with Legislative Change

The Center for Workers’ Rights has spoken to thousands of workers during the pandemic about their unemployment insurance benefit claims and continually answer questions about EDD’s use of the “false statement penalty” that can disqualify a claimant for subsequent benefits years after a prior claim. In January 2021, CWR joined Assembly Member Chad Mayes and other co-authors in writing AB 397, which placed substantial limits on EDD’s authority to impose false statement penalties.  Yesterday, Governor Newsom signed this important piece of legislation.  

Prior to this legislation, it was common for claimants to receive a false statement penalty when they accidentally answer certification questions incorrectly. Claimants often answer certification questions incorrectly because these forms are unintuitive and unnecessarily confusing (especially for Californians who speak English as a second language or not at all). Although the legal standard required a finding that the false statement was provided “willfully,” EDD would impose these penalties without notice to a claimant that EDD was investigating them for fraud.

This bill now requires a notice prior to the determination on false statement penalties so that claimants can explain the origin of the statement and why it isn’t false or it was not provided fraudulently. CWR will continue to work with Assembly Member Mayes and the EDD to draft the notice to ensure that the intent of the bill is carried out.  

CWR  is committed to ensuring the process to access benefits is streamlined and that workers are able to get the benefits they are legally entitled to. 

You can read more about this bill below. If your benefit’s claim has been suspended due to suspected fraud, please call our hotline at 916-905-5857

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