Whitmer selects UM prof to lead unemployment agency

    An unemployment office
    Bytemarks, Flickr

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Monday morning that she was appointing Steve Gray, a University of Michigan law professor, as the head of the state’s embattled Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA).

    Steve Gray
    Soon-to-be UIA director Steve Gray | University of Michigan

    Gray has been a leading advocate for those falsely accused of unemployment fraud under the administration of former Gov. Rick Snyder. Gray founded the University of Michigan’s Law School Unemployment Insurance Clinic, which provided pro bono representation by U of M law students to those facing false claims of fraud.

    Ron Bieber, the president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, described Gray in a statement as “a steadfast advocate for the rights of working men and women in this state,” and lauded his contribution of “knowledge and expertise … in helping to craft legislation in the aftermath of the UIA robo-fraud disaster.”

    Gray consulted on a package of bills that passed with bipartisan support in 2017 and massively overhauled the way the UIA handles its fraud claims.

    The University of Michigan
    University of Michigan Law School | Creative Commons

    In April, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that a class action lawsuit seeking damages for those accused of fraud could proceed, overturning a previous ruling by the Michigan Court of Appeals. According to the governor’s office, more than $400,000 in restitution is still owed to around 500 people who were wrongly charged.

    Whitmer’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Gray’s appointment.

    Gray will officially begin his appointment on June 3.

    Derek Robertson
    Derek Robertson covers local government, education, health care and the social safety net, and LGBTQ issues. Previously, he wrote for Politico Magazine in Washington, and before that covered local politics in Chicago. He is a Genesee County native and graduate of both Wayne State University, where he studied history, and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He enjoys film, the Detroit Pistons and his cat. He once competed in the National Spelling Bee, but was eliminated before any potential ESPN appearances.

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