A Nevada judge on Thursday dismissed a contempt of court summons against the state’s workforce agency, finding the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation to be in “substantial compliance with a July order to pay the self-employed and unemployed independent contractors.
Earlier this month, Washoe County Judge Barry Breslow declared the DETR in defiance of a July 22 court order ordering the state to pay workers who applied for the pandemic unemployment assistance and who had received benefits, but saw them terminated without notice.
“The court determines that the state is no longer in contempt,” Breslow said during a 2-hour hearing Thursday, to determine whether DETR met a Dec. 24 deadline to pay more than $9,000. unemployment insurance claims.
Breslow said DETR will still have to pay the $1,000 fine to Washoe Legal Services, and he wants to “strongly encourage dialogue” between the state and plaintiffs to resolve the issues.
After applying for unemployment benefits in May and waiting months for payment, Las Vegan Lloyd Krieger finally got paid this week.
“I’m just frustrated,” said Krieger, an independent contractor who got paid on Tuesday. “I didn’t question the amount because I was just shocked that they gave me the money at all.”
The hearing comes months after a lawsuit was filed by plaintiff’s attorney Mark Thierman, who said the state had an obligation to follow the order and failed to pay the plaintiffs. the PUA.
“They didn’t take your order seriously,” Thierman told the judge in early December.
Krieger, who is among 9,000 Nevadans affected by DETR’s “stop-start” demands, said he found out Friday, Dec. 18 at 6:43 p.m. that he was paid.
In an internal message titled “Requalification by Court Order,” the agency told Krieger that “your disqualification has been overturned by court order, further review may take place at a later time,” according to documents shared with the Review- Newspaper.
And while Krieger is glad the DETR is paying his claim, he says he shouldn’t take a court order for the DETR to “do its job.”
“Why do we pay people to DETR? Why did it take a court order for them to pay people like me? Krieger said. “How much work do they have for nothing to be done?”
“If I had known I would have all these issues from the start, I wouldn’t have applied,” Krieger added.
A total of 784,549 new initial PUA requests have been filed since the program launched in May. Nevada has sent nearly 384,000 PUA Ineligibility Claim Determination Notices in two separate batches since October, representing nearly half of all claims filed under the program.
DETR Director Elisa Cafferata told the hearing Thursday that the agency had received nearly 1.59 million initial claims through the PUA program and regular unemployment insurance since last week.
“This is the week that we surpassed the number of people we believe are in Nevada’s workforce for whom we received initial applications,” Cafferata said. “So when we say we consider a significant number of these apps to be fraudulent, it’s either that or everyone in Nevada is no longer working.”