LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A judge is once again ordering the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) to pay PUA claimants as thousands have been stuck in a log jam since summer. That judge found the state of Nevada to be in contempt Thursday and set a new deadline for paying more than 9,000 claimants by Dec. 24.
"It's embarrassing for the state of Nevada who holds itself out as the decider of right and wrong to be told it's wrong," said attorney Mark Thierman.
He represents the thousands of gig workers and independent contractors who have been stuck in PUA limbo for monthswaiting for DETR to sort out their case while also waiting for payment.
"They need to pay these people. And frankly, the whole system is designed to pay now and settle up later and they're not doing that," he said.
Bradford McEwen is one of the claimants involved in the case. He's an independent contractor who saw his PUA benefits abruptly stop after 21 weeks of compensation.
"Obviously without any income since July it's been terrible. You really don't have the ability to pay off your credit card bills. I have over $20,000 in credit card expenses at this time," he said.
During a hearing on Thursday, DETR's director said the department was doing everything it could to follow the judge's July order and also square it with the Department of Labor's guidance on PUA eligibility.
The judge ruling that those claims that have been tied up because of eligibility concerns need to be paid by Dec. 24 but did not give a deadline for claims frozen because of suspected fraud.
13 Action News asked Thierman whether he was confident DETR would be able to make the Dec. 24 deadline.
"No," he Thierman.
A spokesperson for DETR said Friday they did not have details to share but they are working on a "strategy for complying with the court's directive."
The spokesperson said the department is hopeful they will be able to process and adjudicate all the remaining cases where fraud is suspected by the end of the month.
"If we are not able to do so for any reason, any claimant who applied will have their claim reviewed, and if eligible, have their claim retroactively approved, even if the program ends."
There is another hearing scheduled for Dec. 31 to see if the department complied with the order.