‘A Dinosaur’ – Pandemic Exposed Long-Standing Flaws in Virginia’s Unemployment System | Government-and-politics
“With the fraud, they don’t even contact you,” he said. “He stays asleep.”
Although his case is still under investigation, Sarber said he was in desperate need of his unemployment benefits, with no chance of returning to his old job. “I’m broke – zero,” he said, adding that he had sold his vehicle and other property. “I do not have anything else.”
The agency added 300 net employees, after counting 220 who left during the pandemic. It only had eight people to rule on disputed claims when the pandemic began. Today, it employs 110 people and has contracted with a private company to supply up to 300 more, as part of Northam’s executive directive and federal lawsuit settlement.
“If we hear this every day, the number of people in trouble is huge,” Hudson said. “I don’t know how you hear the stories we hear every day and don’t want to do more.”
Fogg at VEC admitted, “Our biggest problem is communicating with people.”
Likewise, VEC employed around 50 people in customer service call centers at the start of the pandemic. Today, it employs around 700 people, many of them on private contracts in response to the emergency.
“These are people, this is what we need,” Hess said.
The pandemic has also wreaked havoc on VEC and its nearly 1,200 employees. Two have died from COVID-19 in 12 outbreaks at VEC’s offices, which were closed to the public after the health emergency began. Another died of a heart attack.