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Colorado Labor Department says nearly 1,000 unemployed waited months for back pay

Posted at 10:48 PM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 00:48:09-05

Lakeesha Hernandez home schools her youngest of four children. She says she and her husband don't want her daughter bringing germs home from school because Lakeesha is severely immunocompromised.

"I have pulmonary sarcoidosis and cardiac sarcoidosis," Hernandez said.

That's also why she says was working from home until December of last year.

"I was a customer service representative online at home," she said. "I got sick and I could not sit for the hours they needed me to sit. Unfortunately, the accommodation I required they just couldn't meet."

So Hernandez applied for unemployment.

"I waited and waited and never heard back," said Hernandez.

She says she waited so long she went without medicine.

"My husband works a lot but he can't pay all the bills and the medicines," she said.

"I was getting the runaround for months and I needed my medicine, I needed my car fixed so I said 'I'm going to call News 5. These are the only people I know that can help me, help my family," she said.

I started asking the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment for answers. Six days later I got a response saying the claim had a quote "known defect" and likely would be resolved in days. But days turned into a month.

Turns out the delay comes down to a glitch that would not allow nearly one thousand claimants to certify their eligibility.

"What we've been doing is we've been building enhancements into our system to allow us to go back in time, reopen those weeks so they can go back and certify, if they're eligible to do so," said Department of Labor and Employment Chief of Staff Daniel Chase. "We can only do that if it is a circumstance that was not in the claimant's control at the time and a lot of them aren't."

When asked what he wants to say to the claimants who feel the system has let them down Chase replied, "At this point, we are continuing to work through all of those who have contacted us and all of those issues that we have found in making sure everyone gets what they are owed."

Hernandez now has what she says she was owed, nearly six thousand dollars. It's money that will go a long way to helping her and her family.

Hernandez tells us she's been working with the Department of Labor's Division of Vocational Rehabilitation to look for a job with a company that helps to employ people with disabilities. She hopes to have a job soon.

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