David BLANCHARD is the Ann Arbor labor attorney whose case's settlement initiated some of the Unemployment Insurance Agency's reforms.
He saw the announcement as vindication of the work he had done on the litigation.
"It's just a very proud time for me and my clients that we were able to affect such serious public impact," he said. "People are getting paid back."
Others, like civil rights attorney Jennifer LORD, were more skeptical.
Her class-action suit was dismissed by the Court of Appeals last month and now her legal team is drafting an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court.
She considers the announcement "a small but positive step forward" and told MIRS the agency has more to pay, by her calculations.
"The reason I say small is because the $20.8 million is nowhere near close to what was seized from people," she said. "I personally have gone through the audited financial statements of the agency for the time period when the robo-adjudications were happening and in the time since then, when the collections were still taking place, and the numbers were tens of million of dollars -- more than the $20.8 million."
She argued the agency should be "fully transparent" with Michigan, and show how they arrived at that number.
"I think that's a critical step to rebuilding trust and confidence in the unemployment agency," she said. "We also need to come up with a mechanism to compensate people for the harm that they experienced beyond the seizure of their tax refunds and garnishment of their wages."
Lord is pointing to compensation she believes those who were falsely accused of fraud deserve, if they had to, for instance, file bankruptcy, or took a hit to their credit scores, or lost a job offer due to a negative result on background.
All that, she says, needs to be accounted for.
But Lord admitted the federal settlement has had a positive impact. The letter Blanchard received from the TIA reported the second quarter unemployment claims for 2017, as is required under the settlement.
In it Michelle BEEBE, the senior deputy director of unemployment insurance, reported the findings of fraud were way down. While there were 245 cases deemed to be fraud this quarter, 12,498 were not -- making the total fraud less than two percent of unemployment claims.
Lord thinks those figures should be public.
"Let's open the door on this and let everything come in," she said. "The more people see the more they're going to be comfortable and confident in relying on that safety that needs to be there for them when they lose their job."