July 5, 2010 in City

Department of Labor wins job training case

Rebecca Boone Associated Press

BOISE – The Idaho Supreme Court says the state Department of Labor can limit federal job training assistance to less-expensive programs.

In last week’s unanimous ruling, the high court said the state wasn’t obligated to pay for a former Micron Technology worker to attend Boise State University’s Executive MBA program – at a cost of $41,000 – when the school also offered a substantially cheaper MBA program.

Ruth Creps was laid off from Micron in 2007, and in 2008 applied for assistance through the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which helps fund job training and other benefits for people who lose their jobs due to increased imports.

But the Idaho Department of Labor, which administers the federal money, turned her down, saying she could get the same degree by attending Boise State’s traditional MBA program, at a cost of just $14,000.

Creps appealed that decision, saying the two programs were different. She said the executive program gave more tailored training and was designed for people who’d been in the work force longer. And she said the cost included the price of books and other fees.

An appeal officer sided with Creps, but the Idaho Industrial Commission overturned the officer’s decision and upheld the Department of Labor.

Writing for the court, Justice Joel Horton said the commission and Labor Department were correct. “The fundamental similarities between the two programs, particularly the common degree, bring the programs into the realm where the Department of Labor’s limited discretion in disbursing TAA funding comes into play,” Horton wrote.

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