Auditors examine the practices of the Nebraska Department of Labor
OMAHA, Nebraska (WOWT) – State auditors are re-examining the books and practices of the Nebraska Department of Labor during the pandemic.
The labor department has come under fire after a series of articles on 6 News highlighting a number of instances where unemployed men and women who received unemployment benefits are now being asked to repay them.
In the first NDOL audit, conducted in December, auditors criticized those who approved unemployment claims. In one case, a handful of inmates were unemployed. In another, someone obtained unemployment using the same name as a state auditor.
Defense of the Department of Labor: Federal rules were constantly being changed and in a crisis sometimes it was necessary to act quickly – but these rules were always followed.
Lynette Berg is frustrated: “I am clearly without a net.”
At the height of the pandemic, as thousands died in hospitals across the country, she said she told her employer in Omaha that she was not quitting, but that she did not feel safe. safety of working alongside others in her IT job – especially since she has lung problems.
So she went unemployed. Months later, she said, “they came back and decided on everything I got – that I didn’t deserve any of this.”
NDOL asked for $ 13,000 in return. As part of the repayment plan, the state retained its income tax refund.
There’s no question: An unprecedented number of people filed for unemployment in Nebraska last year. A month after the start of the pandemic, 82,000 Nebraskans had filed for unemployment – twice as many as all who filed in 2019.
And the numbers kept growing.
The labor department system and workforce simply could not keep up with the demand. Senior officials told state auditors that it was essential for the economy to ensure payment was made in a timely manner. State auditors said more should have been done to prevent fraud along the way, rather than trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube and collect the money already paid.
“There is no fraud here,” Berg said. She said she felt like she was dragged into a net as the state tried to recoup money it didn’t believe it deserved – and that she would be put in a category where, if she was having a hard time, she couldn’t get unemployment. again.
Copyright 2021 WOWT. All rights reserved.