Ex-Michigan unemployment director got $85,000 in resignation

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan's former unemployment director Steve Gray received $85,872 as part of a settlement deal with the state when he resigned on Nov. 5, according to a document released Tuesday night by the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

Gray's deal is the third previously undisclosed separation arrangement that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration has revealed in the last 48 hours, drawing criticism and calls for legislative investigations.


Like the agreement with Robert Gordon, the state's former health director who stepped down on Jan. 22, Gray's deal also requires both he and the state "maintain confidentiality" regarding his employment and his departure.

"In addition, both parties agree that they will not make any statements or take any action disparaging the reputation of the other, whether written or oral," the agreement says.

Gray, who was director of Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency, resigned Nov. 5 after months of record jobless claims because of COVID-19 that led to delays in benefits and frustration among residents.

A group of Republican House members called in June for a leadership overhaul within the state's Unemployment Insurance Agency as tens of thousands of Michigan residents faced lengthy waits for assistance.

In his departure deal, Gray also vowed to release any potential legal claims he might have had against the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. The deal is dated Nov. 5 and was signed by Gray and Keri Lardie of the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

Gray, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night, was to be paid $76,626 in a "final paycheck" in November and $9,246 was to be sent to a law firm for "costs and attorney fees," according to the agreement.

The money represented his pay from Nov. 6 through June 1, 2021, nearly seven months after he resigned.

Gordon received $155,506 in his separation deal that also required the two sides to maintain confidentiality about the circumstances that led to his abrupt departure, The Detroit News reported Monday after multiple Freedom of Information Act requests.

House Oversight Chairman Steven Johnson, R-Wayland, has vowed to investigate the pacts. At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Johnson floated the possibility that Gray had received separation pay.

"We're don't know," Johnson said. "There has been no transparency from this administration."

The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity released the deal at 8 p.m. Tuesday night after telling reporters earlier in the day to file Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain the document.

Before becoming Michigan's unemployment director, Gray was the director of Michigan Law's Unemployment Insurance Clinic and spent much of his legal career helping get people financial assistance. Whitmer selected Gray for the job in May 2019.