Mounting unemployment claims cause distress for newly unemployed workers and create logjams for state labor departments tasked with processing and deciding unemployment claims.
But record unemployment means good times for one of America’s most hated companies – Equifax.
Equifax, TALX and unemployment
Equifax, better known for a data breach effecting 143 million in 2018, works with employers to defend unemployment claims through its TALX division. Back in 2010, when TALX was an independent company, TALX drew media scrutiny for its role in delaying and denying unemployment claims during the so-called Great Recession. Equifax bought TALX in 2012. Equifax/TALX has continued working with employers to deny unemployment claims.
Don’t get me wrong, employers have a right to defend unemployment claims. But on the occasions when employees push back against Equifax they often win. Equifax often no shows hearings. But many people just give up after a claim defended by Equifax gets denied. Competent legal representation can often help an employee get a denial of benefits reversed, but many if not most people don’t seek representation in unemployment appeals.
Justice delayed is justice denied
Fortunately, many people appeal denial of unemployment benefits. Pre COVID, the time between an appeal and a hearing was roughly four weeks. The last time I wrote about unemployment on June 22, the wait time increased from four to eight weeks between appeal and hearing. Last Friday, I filed a request for reconsideration on a dismissal where there was 12 week lag time between appeal and hearing. Claims that are denied by Equifax/TALX contribute to the backlog.
Justice delayed is justice denied, Part 2
Of the course the growing delays in unemployment appeals mirror the delays in applying for benefits and receiving benefits when approved. I think the Nebraska Appeal Tribunal, the court that hears unemployment appeals within the Nebraska Department of Labor, is doing a good job under the circumstances. The Tribunal normally operates under streamlined procedures where telephonic hearings have been the norm since at least when I started practicing in 2005. I believe the Tribunal is thinking outside the box to fairly manager its case load. If the Appeal Tribunal was less efficient, things would be much worse for unemployed workers.
But the state of Nebraska needs to invest in improving the infrastructure for unemployment claims. The Legislature also needs to look in to cracking down on TALX/Equifax next session.
TALX is another example of the problems created by companies outsourcing human resource decisions. FMLA leave is often tied to private disability policies. This link between leave and disability insurance which creates all sorts of hassles for employees when medical personnel, human resources departments and insurers fail to communicate. Maybe a new Secretary of Labor will scrutinize the problems caused by outsourced HR functions. I hope Congress will focus on theses issues as well.