On November 8, 2018, the Administration issued a proposed rule that would give states virtually unlimited discretion to drug test Unemployment Insurance (“UI”) applicants. UI is a critical support for those who lose their jobs and for their families. This rule would have a disproportionate impact on women and people of color, who are already less likely than white, non-Hispanic men to receive UI benefits when they lose their jobs. This disproportionate impact is due in large part to the overall UI system’s eligibility requirements. For example, only 19 states provide UI benefits to those who had to leave their jobs due to domestic-abuse related issues or work-family conflicts, two reasons women are much more likely than men to have to leave a job.
NWLC submitted comments to the Department of Labor pointing out the particularly harmful impact this rule would have on women, people of color, and low-wage workers and their ability to receive the UI benefits they need to support themselves and their families in the event of a job loss. In addition to several legal arguments as to why this rule is harmful and improper, NWLC also argues that it perpetuates negative stereotypes and does not address the critical need for the UI system to better serve women who lose their jobs.