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Jobless gig workers face familiar problems filing claims

Nevada’s jobless gig workers contacting the Alorica call center for help filing unemployment insurance claims are hitting the same wall as those who filed for traditional benefits in March.

Las Vegan Chris Clancy first called Alorica on Saturday after he was unable to submit his claim on the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance system launched that day by the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

“I call the hotline for the PUA and they couldn’t do anything,” said Clancy, an independent contractor who explained that the PUA system incorrectly listed a third-party payroll firm as his employer. “They said they didn’t have access to (my claim) to change it and I have to go back to (call) the unemployment office.”

He continued to call every day hoping to find someone who could help. Clancy said he was able to reach a representative Tuesday afternoon, who said the claim would be fixed this week.

“I hope they are not just telling me what I want to hear,” he said.

The PUA is one of three unemployment-related provisions under the $2 trillion stimulus bill approved by Congress and makes independent contractors, self-employed workers and gig workers eligible for unemployment benefits.

DETR spokeswoman Rosa Mendez said in a statement that Alorica has been able to help gig workers.

“Tens of thousands of Nevadans have successfully filed claims without issue and many have received assistance through the Alorica call center staff,” she said. “DETR is working closely with Alorica to address additional training needs, identify trends, and coordinating necessary resources to provide Nevadans with accurate information and issue resolution.”

With thousands of Nevadans out of work due to business closures sparked by the coronavirus, DETR’s call volume surged in March. In an effort to meet demand, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced plans to hire third-party call center Alorica.

Roughly a week after the call center launched in April, jobless Nevadans reported that the 100-person staff couldn’t solve specific issues with claims and could answer only general questions such as how to file a claim. Many of those early filers are still waiting for much-needed financial relief.

DETR Director Heather Korbulic announced last week that the call center would become the main point of contact for independent contractors, self-employed workers and gig workers.

“It will be a dedicated call center for PUA-related questions, and they will be the primary claims adjudicators for all PUA claims,” she said at the time.

Korbulic, who started her post two weeks ago, said the department anticipates at least 70,000 gig workers to seek unemployment benefits.

But so far, filers say they have yet to see any of their problems get resolved by the call center.

Randy Janeway of Las Vegas said he was able to speak with someone Sunday afternoon after calling all day Saturday only to find the representative couldn’t help him.

“I asked her how I can fax, email or send my documentation to her, and she said let me ask someone and hung up,” he said. “I was not rude or mean. She just had zero information and didn’t even ask me one question.”

Contact Subrina Hudson at shudson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @SubrinaH on Twitter.

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