A former administrative law judge for Iowa Workforce Development is filing a lawsuit against the agency’s director Teresa Wahlert, and the state of Iowa, claiming Wahlert tried to influence his rulings in favor of employers.
Joseph Walsh was made a Chief Administrative Law Judge in 2011 for IWD. He ruled on unemployment cases for the agency.
Walsh claims Wahlert tried to interfere with the administrative judicial process. When he wouldn’t cooperate Walsh says she took steps to “marginalize” him and even stripped him of his merit protection, which is required for any judge deciding unemployment compensation cases.
In June of 2013, Walsh contacted the U.S. Department of Labor for help with the issue. He claims Wahlert was compelled to restore his merit status.
Walsh claims his eventual layoff from the department was retaliation by Wahlert.
Walsh’s wife, Venus, was also removed from her position at Iowa Workforce Development, though the position was funded fully.
“If good people don`t speak up and we sit by silently while this administration interferes with the sanctity of the judicial processes then we are just as guilty as she is,” Walsh said.
In a statement, Wahlert called the lawsuit "frivolous and 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 unemployment insurance appeals board."
Wahlert also criticized Walsh's work performance.
A similar claim was made by state senator Bill Dotzler in March. He asked the U.S. Department of Labor to investigate the issue.