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Complaint: NM unemployment system discriminates

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The state’s online unemployment insurance system discriminates against non-English speakers, the computer illiterate, the elderly and the disabled, according to a civil rights complaint filed with the federal Labor Department’s Civil Rights Center by the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty.

The system, used by the unemployed to apply for benefits since January, “has created significant barriers for limited English proficiency applicants, resulting in racial/national origin discrimination,” accord to the complaint, which was released to the media Thursday. The complaint also contends the system “precludes many New Mexicans who are disabled and/or elderly” and people who don’t have or can’t operate a computer “from being able to apply for unemployment benefits.”

The state Department of Workforce Solutions “failure to accommodate individuals with (low English proficiency), especially in a state where over one third of the population speaks Spanish at home, is illegal discrimination,” the complaint said.

The Center on Law and Poverty said the state Department of Workforce Solutions also operates a telephone application system but does not inform applicants that it is available.

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