YOUR LETTERS: An open letter to Gov. Parson and Congressman Luetkemeyer

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Dear Governor Parson and Congressman Luetkemeyer,

I have reviewed your published Show Me Strong Recovery plan and was pleased to learn we will be, “Looking after our most vulnerable and at-risk populations.” Yet concurrent with your published plan to protect the most vulnerable, the Missouri Division of Employment Security issued a warning to Missouri workers regarding their access to benefits.

The warning, which was widely circulated, can be found in the posted Frequently Asked Questions, “The U.S. Department of Labor’s (USDOL’s) guidance states that general fear of COVID-19 will not support continuation of unemployment benefits under regular unemployment or any of the federally funded programs available under the CARES Act,” a warning widely circulated.

There’s no reference to “at-risk” workers or populations anywhere in the published guidance that follows this initial statement. In fact, you have instituted protocols and mandates forcing employers to report employees who fear exposure due to preexisting medical conditions that may place themselves or their family members at risk. You even created an electronic form to report these workers. Please point me to the published exemption for our “at-risk” workers and the form they can use to notify the Division of Employment Security.

The recent changes to the unemployment policies and access to benefits appear to violate the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission’s interpretation of a worker’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

I look forward to your response.

JOHN KAHRHOFF
Wentzville, Mo.
IBEW Local 1

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