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PUA class-action lawsuit going before judge on Monday

Posted at 8:32 PM, Jul 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-20 11:52:44-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A class-action lawsuit that has been filed on behalf of those still waiting for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) in Nevada is coming before a judge on Monday.

Findings from a special court-appointed investigator reveal “fractures” in the system, advising the state's unemployment department, Nevada Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation (known as DETR), to move to a cloud-based online system and call center.

Former DETR employees also exposed what they call a broken and sad system to 13 Investigates.

RELATED: Congressional leaders raise concerns over federal PUA guidelines

The Special Master found no opportunity for claimants to challenge DETR decisions, but now the department has created a website for PUA applicants to do so.

Investigators also found glitches in benefit deliveries, including no reliable person to provide information to properly complete applications and resolve problems.

RELATED: PUA online appeals function operational on DETR website

“The system is so new you can’t even get through to anybody,” said Sasha Vanderose, a performer on the Las Vegas Strip who knows first hand the struggles of getting help.

She says she started to receive PUA benefits, but then she says the payments stopped and she was told she needed to pay back what she received.

“I am 90% 1099, and 10% W-2,” explained Vanderose. “Because of that 10%, and because of some strange technicality, if you qualify for regular unemployment, it will kick you out of the PUA system.”

Vanderose says it’s a similar story for fellow performs and gig workers who have been out of a job.

A former employee spoke to 13 Investigates about some of those problems happening inside the DETR walls.

RELATED: 'Systemic incompetence' and 'fraud fallacy' part of broken system at DETR, says former adjudicator

“Not only in the face of a lawsuit but in the face of humanity," said Steve Zuelke, former employee.

"In the face of tens of thousands of people that are losing everything because of system inefficiencies and lack of steady leadership, that someone would come in and say we need to pull out all the stops.”