Mesa man claims state agency is keeping him unemployed

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MESA -- A Mesa man claims he'd love to work but says a state agency is keeping him unemployed.

In this economy, the health field is one of the most sought-after industries around. So, Alan Cohen says he thought it was the perfect time to jump back into that arena. Unfortunately, he jumped before checking everything out.

"I loved it," he said. "I loved that kind of work and I enjoyed helping people."

Cohen says he spent 30 years as a respiratory technician in New York and, like a lot of folks, he moved his family to sunny Arizona. As a result, he wrote to the Arizona Board of Respiratory Care Examiners and asked for a temporary license until he could get a permanent one.

Even though Cohen provided paperwork verifying his eligibility and after paying $270 in licensing fees, he says he didn't qualify for a permanent license because he didn't have an associate degree.

"I was never told I needed one, otherwise I wouldn't have applied for it," he said.

Cohen says he was disappointed so he asked for his $270 back, but the Arizona Board of Respiratory Care Examiners told him "no refunds."

"Right now I am unemployed, I could have used that money toward the rent or something else," Cohen said.

Now Cohen is left with no license to work and he's out $270 so he contacted 3 On Your Side to clear things up.

"It's rough right now," Cohen said. "We're behind on all our bills and we may lose our car because we are so behind on everything and it's very frustrating for me because I need to support my family."

3 On Your Side contacted the agency which told us they would like to help Cohen but can't. Apparently, Cohen let his temporary respiratory license lapse and during that time gap, more schooling requirements were made mandatory.

The agency says Cohen could have been grandfathered in if he simply would have kept his temporary license current.

Cohen says it's an expensive lesson and wishes he would have asked more questions from the beginning.

"Without my license, I don't know what's going to happen to us," he said.

Cohen says 30 years of hands-on experience should account for something but without that degree, he's out of luck.

As for a refund, the agency tells us they have a strict policy about not returning money since they spend so much time examining paperwork submitted by applicants like Cohen.