LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Nevada’s unemployment agency faces more scrutiny, as Nevada lawmakers asked federal labor authorities for an investigation. A judge ordered another review of the backlog of claims.
A letter written by Minority Floor Leader Assemblywoman Robin Titus requested assistance from the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Labor. The letter was written on behalf of thirteen Republican Assembly lawmakers.
“We request that your office conduct an investigation into DETR’s substandard implementation of the CARES Act and its failure to efficiently process unemployment insurance claims,” the letter reads.
“It is unclear what steps DETR is undertaking to fix existing problems and help mitigate future failures within the program,” it further states, citing various publicized problems with phone lines and months of waiting for payments.
“Our frustration is, there just hasn’t been a lot of visibility about what’s going on inside DETR and what is actually being done,” said Assemblyman Tom Roberts of Las Vegas. He tells FOX5, numerous questions from his office went unanswered, just like requests from other lawmakers.
Roberts said representatives from different lawmaker offices searched for solutions for frustrated applicants, but could only find one answer: call the jammed phone lines.
“The scope of the problem goes beyond the state… if there’s larger problems we don’t know about. It would he helpful to have someone from the outside looking in,” he said.
Other states have requested similar aid from the Department of Labor. The federal government can intervene in affairs surrounding unemployment aid given to states through the CARES Act.
Thursday afternoon, Washoe County Judge Barry Breslow ordered another report from a court special master to explain how 75,000 Nevadans could obtain unemployment assistance quicker than the agency says is possible, and what could hold up payments.
Those tens of thousands of applicants for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance were directed by the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation to file for Traditional Unemployment. The judge expressed concern the process to file and receive payments could take weeks or months, after the same applicants already waited several months to file for PUA.
“Time is not a luxury that we have right now,” Judge Breslow said.
Two weeks ago, the judge ordered for the agency to broaden the scope of who is eligible for PUA, and end the practice of halting payments outside eligibility issues. The judge asked for more progress in the latter class of filers, calling delays a concern.
Another court date will be held August 20. The judge said he reserves the decision to hold the state in contempt, or issue another order.