AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – A panel that examined Maine’s process for resolving unemployment claim disputes says severe understaffing led to payment delays but that there’s no evidence that hearing officers were biased.
The report, released Tuesday, followed criticism that Republican Gov. Paul LePage scolded unemployment hearing officers in a Blaine House meeting and urged them to decide more cases to favor business. A U.S. Labor Department lawyer came to Maine to interview the hearing officers who attended the March 21 meeting.
The governor later created the blue ribbon commission to see if there was evidence of bias.
The commission concluded there’s “no direct or intentional bias toward employers or employees” but said understaffing could cause delays that prevent benefits from reaching laid-off workers or prevent overpayments by employers.