For Immediate Release: April 3, 2014
Contact: Kerry Koonce: (515) 281-9646
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Walsh Files Frivolous Lawsuit Against the State of Iowa and Teresa Wahlert
DES MOINES – Former Chief ALJ, Joe Walsh, has filed a frivolous lawsuit against the State of Iowa and IWD Director, Teresa Wahlert. This is an attempt to draw attention away from the elimination of the Chief ALJ position due to federal budget cuts and the poor performance of the UI Appeals Bureau.
“It’s unfortunate that once again Mr. Walsh is making baseless accusations that cannot be supported with facts,” stated Wahlert. “Now, through this latest attempt, he is wasting the time of Iowa’s court system.”
Mr. Walsh states in his suit that Director Wahlert tried to influence Labor Commissioner Michael Mauro to end his contract with Mr. Walsh for the Athletic Commissioner duties.
“Upon hearing of Mr. Walsh’s departure from the agency, I asked Director Wahlert if he was laid off or fired,” stated Commissioner Mauro. “She immediately replied ‘laid off’ and I stated my intentions to keep Mr. Walsh under contract as the Athletic Commissioner. Director Wahlert’s immediate response was ‘that’s perfectly fine’,” said Mauro.
In the lawsuit, Mr. Walsh states the primary function of the Chief ALJ is management. Walsh never provided any of his employees with a state required annual performance review in his two and a half year tenure. Additionally, Mr. Walsh failed to ensure the Bureau was meeting the mandatory US Department of Labor metrics of deciding at least 60 percent of the cases within a 30 day time period. This led to the agency being placed on a corrective action plan by DOL in September of 2012 and caused Iowa to receive reductions in federal funding intended to support Iowans. During this time, the state’s ranking by DOL had plummeted to 47th in the nation. Fortunately, the process improvements that have taken place since August 2013 have brought the Bureau to 12th in the nation.
Despite Mr. Walsh’s tenure with state government, he fails in a basic understanding of the AFSCME contract. IWD offered Mrs. Venus Walsh an alternate position in the agency as outlined in the contract layoff process. Mrs. Walsh freely chose not to accept the position and she choose to be laid off.
The lawsuit alleges that Director Wahlert has attempted to influence the ALJs to rule more frequently in the favor of employers. The data from the Department of Labor proves otherwise.
Mr. Walsh had the responsibility to ensure that every case is heard in a timely and appropriate manner. Mr. Walsh himself never managed to attain the DOL requirement of 60 percent of the cases receiving a decision within 30 days for his caseload. In fact, Mr. Walsh had cases where parties waited 56 days, 69 days, 159 days and even 216 days for his decision.
Finally, Mr. Walsh contends within his lawsuit that he was treated differently than others during the layoff. Again, this is a false statement as all non-contract, managerial staff were escorted from the building in the same manner, the same day.
“The number of factual inaccuracies in Mr. Walsh’s lawsuit is staggering” stated Wahlert. “As Senator Dotzler previously stated, ‘facts are stubborn’.”