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TIMELINE: Nevada Dept. of Employment and handling of pandemic unemployment claims

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Posted at 10:56 AM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-16 16:27:25-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The following is a timeline for Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation's handling of the unemployment claims as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

IMPORTANT DATES:

  • March 6: First official case of COVID-19 reported in Las Vegas.
  • March 17: Gov. Steve Sisolak orders shutdown of non-essential business, which includes casinos.
  • DETR head out: Tiffany Tyler-Garner was the head of DETR from March 2019 until April 28, 2020.
  • New DETR Director announced: Heather Korbulic is announced as the new director, appointed by Gov. Sisolak on April 28, 2020.
  • June 4: Casinos reopen in Nevada.
  • 2nd DETR Director out: Heather's last day with DETR was June 12 (stating threats as the reason she was departing).
  • DETR Deputy Director Dennis Perea resigns on July 17.
  • August 2019: Kimberly Gaa is appointed as head of DETR.
  • Sept 3: Numerous sources say Kimberly Gaa is out.

MARCH:

  • 3/4 and 3/10 DETR emails states Nevada seeing historically low unemployment in February.
  • 3/16: DETR sends email saying they are expanding their business hours. They also send email stating they are posting a YouTube video to show people how to file for unemployment.
  • 3/17: DETR sends email about having to close their Job Connect offices (encouraging everyone to file online).
  • 3/23: DETR asks employers that are going to be closing as result of state shutdown to submit their wage reports.
  • 3/27: DETR sends email about NV receiving the most UI claims in the history of the state. Later in the day, they send an email that they are expanding their Help Desk business hours and adding Saturday times as well (8 a.m. to noon).
  • 3/31: DETR sends email announcing CARES Act money will be coming to claimants. DETR says they are just waiting on the guidelines on how claimants would be eligible for the payments.

APRIL:

  • 4/2: DETR reports website temporarily down.
  • 4/7: DETR sends email warning of scams.
  • 4/8 : DETR sends email stating 96% of initial claims successfully filed online and 4% successfully filed over the phone.
  • 4/8: DETR hiring more staff, sets up password reset online form.
  • 4/10: DETR's email says continued claims reach an all-time high.
  • 4/11: DETR says they're taking steps to “fast-track implementation of the CARES Act money." They send another email further explaining the funds and how PUA and CARES Act money will be handled.
  • 4/11: DETR reports website temporarily down.
  • 4/13: Email received from DETR about website slowing or throttling down because so many people are attempting to access their website. Claimants chain that the system has completely crashed.
  • 4/15: DETR announces the new call center vendor (ALORICA). At this time they also state that unemployment numbers are now SIX times the previous high record set in December 2008.
  • 4/17: DETR sends email regarding the state cautioning claimants about sharing information with non-sanctioned sources (warning of ID theft).
  • 4/18: DETR reports website temporarily down.
  • 4/18: DETR announces they've launched a new password feature for claimants to reset and update their online passwords (this was a major complaint of claimants that had an account and had been on unemployment before but couldn't remember their password and were having a hard time getting in to DETR to speak with someone to get it corrected).

MAY:

  • 5/1: DETR's press release announces the state has extended the UI benefits by 13 weeks (claimants now have the original 13 weeks of UI benefits plus an additional 13 weeks).
  • 5/2: DETR reports website temporarily down.
  • 5/9: DETR reports website temporarily down.
  • 5/12: DETR press release announces that the governor has waived the work search option for claimants.
  • 5/13: The new director of DETR says in her weekly DETR update, "We continue to look at ways to improve our system to meet the ongoing demand."
  • 5/13 DETR says they're launching the PUA online plans in the next few days.
  • 5/15: DETR press elease headline says: Initial claims declined for the 2nd week, continued claims rise.
  • 5/16: DETR reports website temporarily down.
  • 5/22: DETR reports website temporarily down. Issue with call center also reported.
  • 5/23: DETR email says they are supposed to be launching the PUA online filing system but they're having “technical complications."
  • 5/26: DETR announces that their Carson City call center has a positive COVID case (there was concern because the governor had been there visiting during this time).
  • 5/27: DETR announces that NV has the highest unemployment rate in the nation.
  • 5/29: DETR announces a decline in initial claims.

JUNE:

JULY:

  • 7/2: Class-action lawsuit seeks to force Nevada's unemployment office to do its job; Former insider speaks out about state's failures.
  • 7/2: DETR reports website temporarily down.
  • 7/11 DETR call center in Southern Nevada has a positive COVID case, all calls are no being transferred to the Carson City call center. (During this same time it's discovered that unemployment will be running out in less that 8 weeks).
  • 7/15: DETR alerts media that they'll be changing the way they do their press briefings, questions must be submitted in advance.
  • 7/14: Multiple fraud complaints filed after strange unemployment claims sent to Nevada companies.
  • 7/17: 'Systemic incompetence' and 'fraud fallacy' part of broken system at DETR, says former adjudicator.
  • 7/17: DETR cancels their press conferences and says all questions will be answered via email during the scheduled briefing time.
  • 7/18: PUA online appeals function operational on DETR website.
  • 7/19: 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.
  • 7/20: Assembly Republicans sent a letter on Wednesday urging the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Labor (DOL) to investigate the continuous failures of Nevada’s Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation (DETR) program.
  • 7/21: About half of jobs lost in Nevada due to coronavirus shutdown have returned, state says.
  • 7/22: 6 law firm employees have fake unemployment claims filed on their behalf.
  • 7/29: Sent 2 emails regarding maintenance: the first from 8 p.m. to midnight for the UINV site, the other from 5-7 a.m. is for DETR & Job Connect sites.
  • 7/30: DETR reports website temporarily down.
  • 7/30: Nevada DETR says it expects to be able to pay missing $600 benefit next week.
  • 7/31: More than 20,000 unemployment claims are currently delayed in Nevada, but some claimants say DETR is asking them to pay back some of their money received.

AUGUST:

  • 8/1: (DETR) announces their unemployment insurance site (ui.nv.gov) will be down from 1 to 5 p.m. (not at 8 p.m. to midnight, as previously announced), in order to conduct system maintenance. During this time, the site will not be functional, and filers will not be able to file claims or access the resource materials on the website. Filers are encouraged to visit the aforementioned site after 5 this afternoon. This maintenance will not impact the PUA website (employnv.gov) and claimants attempting to file PUA claims online will not be affected.
  • 8/4: Nevada lawmakers passed a bill on Tuesday to expand eligibility for unemployment benefits to workers who decide returning to their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic is too risky.
  • 8/7: DETR sends email about the system being down Aug 8 from 1 to 7 p.m., a period of lower traffic, in order to conduct system maintenance. During this time, all unemployment insurance functions, including unemployment insurance filing will not be functional.
  • 8/10: New twist in unemployment frustration reveals DETR triple pay. DETR will not answer questions asked by 13 Investigates.
  • 8/14: Unemployment claims in Nevada rise 29% from previous week.
  • 8/17: DETR says it is waiting on federal guidance on possible additional unemployment benefits.
  • 8/20: During a hearing, a judge formally denies a writ of mandamus ordering Nevada's unemployment department (DETR) to pay Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA) claimants in mass, but his previous order requiring the agency to pay certain groups still stands.
  • 8/24: Former insiders dispute DETR claim computer system is antiquated.
  • 8/25: Gov. Sisolak gives the authorization for Nevada to start the application process to participate in the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Program created by President Donald Trump under Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.
  • 8/28: New DETR leader discusses crisis, says she's up to the challenge.
  • 8/26: Nevada DETR reports 14% unemployment rate for the state for July.
  • 8/28: DETR reports that both of their websites are operating at a slower speed, causing users to experience slow response times. Claims to be working with a vendor to address the issue.

SEPTEMBER:

  • 9/2: DETR announces that the unemployment insurance system (ui.nv.gov) site will be offline from 8 p.m. until 10 p.m. Sept. 2 in order to conduct updates to UINv’s automated call center recordings.
  • 9/2: DETR announces that Nevada submitted its application on Tuesday for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Grant Program created by President Donald Trump under Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.
  • 9/3: DETR confirms that it will announce “leadership updates” by the end of the week.
  • 9/3: Some people are getting letters from DETR saying they were overpaid.
  • 9/11: DETR announces that it is phasing out the use of its third-party PUA call center, Alorica, and will retain all claims and data by the end of the next 30 days.
  • 9/29: DETR takes the Unemployment Insurance (UI) site offline between 8 p.m. and midnight for system updates.

OCTOBER:

  • 10/3: DETR announces that the unemployment insurance system (ui.nv.gov) site will be offline from 2 p.m. until midnight Oct. 3 in order to conduct regular system maintenance.
  • 10/5: Thousands of claimants still waiting on money from DETR. 13 Investigates takes a look at one woman's situation.
  • 10/7: DETR says its PUA call center is experiencing technical difficulties.
  • 10/10: DETR announces that the unemployment insurance system (ui.nv.gov) site will be offline from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. in order to conduct regular system maintenance.
  • 10/15: DETR announces it is sending out PUA ineligibility determinations over next 3 weeks.
  • 10/16: Charges announced against 10 people for unemployment insurance fraud.
  • 10/17: DETR's website will be offline starting at 1 p.m. for system upgrades.