DETR under investigation

Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 6:17 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Nevada's Department of Employment, Training, and Rehabilitation (DETR) is under extreme scrutiny.

Breslow did not mix words during the court hearing Tuesday, July 7.

“The status quo right now is unacceptable,” He said.

Judge Barry Breslow of the Second Judicial District Court has ordered an investigator to find specific details to reveal why it’s taking DETR so long for it to pay unemployment benefits and aid.

Attorney Mark Thierman who filed the class-action lawsuit on behalf of all PUA claimants in the State of Nevada says this case is about paying unemployment aid in a timely manner.

“Not when you can do it. It’s when due,” Thierman.

“Lets look at some of the numbers that have been provided (by DETR during the hearing) by Mr. Schmidt (State of Nevada’s Chief Economist) and also by Mrs. Gaa (DETR’s administrator for the Employment Security Division) so for Mrs. Gaa particularly. She said there’s about 35 adjudicators. If that is correct and based on Mr. Schmidt’s previous numbers of about 139,000 not having been paid. If you look at a full time equivalent job, which is 2080 hours per year. Thirty-five adjudicators times 2080 per year equals 72,800 hours of work divided that by 139,000 people it will take those 35 adjudicators 1.9 years to get to those claims. That’s not encouraging at all for people on the verge of losing their homes,” said attorney Leah Jones also representing PUA claimants.

DETR’s Deputy Director Dennis Perea responded by talking about the adjudicators.

“The straight line math equates, but the reality is the 35 we added to the Alorica (call center) contract is not enough and we’re bringing more in,” he said.

Gaa defended delaying payment to Nevadan's in need of money.

"We would pay when something was determined eligible and we would not pay when something is not eligible," Gaa.

“Give me something. Give me something other than you know we’re working as fast as we can,” Judge Breslow.

“You asked us is there really a set timeline? Um no there is not,” said Deputy Attorney General for the State of Nevada, Robert Whitney.

One of DETR's arguments for delaying payments is to prevent fraud.

“But that alone, the concern there, is not going to delay this program from being administered and people to be paid. It can’t,” Judge Breslow said.

"There may be a $5 million or $10 million fraud on a billion dollars worth of assistance," Thierman.

“To just release the fraud I think is just impractical and it would be disastrous kind of like what happened in Washington,” said Perea.

“I just am concerned that people are suffering while claims are being processed,” Judge Breslow.

I don’t want good. I don’t want great. I want heroic. That’s what the court is expecting,” Judge Breslow.

“The court appoints Jason Guinasso of the Hutchison and Steffen Firm as a master in this case,” Breslow continued.

The judge will meet with Guinasso and representatives for the plaintiffs and DETR Wednesday, July 8 at 2:00 p.m, to discuss the specific role Guinasso will play during the investigation into DETR.

Judge Breslow asked him to hand in a report Wednesday, July 15 at 2:00 p.m.

A second hearing is scheduled for Thursday, July 16 at 9:00 a.m. where Judge Breslow says he will make a judgment.

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