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A Better Partnership
June 14, 2015

COA: Training enrollment deadlines of the Trade Act of 1974 do not apply to training waivers

In Department of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs, Unemployment Insurance Agency/TRA Special Programs Unit v. Khan, No. 318799, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that deadlines in 19 USC § 2291(a)(5)(A)(ii) of the Trade Act of 1974 do not apply to individuals who seek waivers for training and that no deference is to be given to the U.S. Department of Labor’s (USDL) contrary interpretation of the Trade Act on this issue. 
In this case, the respondent, Mohammed Khan, sought trade readjustment allowance (TRA) unemployment benefits.   As a prerequisite to eligibility, an individual must either participate in training or file a training waiver.   The respondent did not participate in training but did submit a waiver.   The petitioner, the Department of Licensing & Regulatory Affairs, is responsible for making TRA eligibility determinations and denied respondent’s request for benefits because he did not enroll in training or submit a waiver within 26-weeks of his separation from work per 19 USC § 2291(a)(5)(A)(ii). 
On appeal, the Michigan Administrative Hearing System decided the respondent was entitled to the TRA benefits because the 26-week deadline in the 2009 version of 19 USC § 2291(a)(5)(A)(ii) applied only to training enrollments, not waivers.  Its decision relied on Department of Labor & Economic Growth, Unemployment Insurance Agency v. Dykstra, 283 Mich. App. 212, 215 (2009), which held that the deadlines in this provision were not applicable to waivers and the USDL’s interpretation was not entitled to any deference.   The petitioner next appealed to the Michigan Compensation Appellate Commission (MCAC), which affirmed on the basis that Dykstra constituted binding precedent.  The trial court affirmed on similar grounds.
Contrary to the petitioner’s arguments, the Michigan Court of Appeals held that Dykstra was still good law and governed the outcome of the case.  Because training waivers for TRA benefits are not subject to the time limits in 19 USC § 2291(a)(5)(A)(ii), the respondent’s waiver, submitted more than a year after his employment separation, was not untimely.  Accordingly, the respondent was eligible to receive TRA unemployment benefits under the Trade Act of 1974.

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