Judge gavel, scales of justice and law books in court
LAS VEGAS — With Nevada the
only U.S. state not taking applications for federal coronavirus relief payments
to gig workers, two self-employed single mothers in Reno are suing to force the
state to begin paying thousands of out-of-work people the more than $600 a week
"Congress said do it.
Nevada isn't doing it," said Mark Thierman, an attorney who filed a
lawsuit Tuesday in Reno seeking class-action status and a judge's order for the
state Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation to start accepting
applications from self-employed people, independent contractors and sole
"Get the web page up and
running so gig people can file their claims," Thierman said Wednesday.
"Administer it. Get these people their money. They're desperate."
Gov. Steve Sisolak's office
and an unemployment department spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to
questions about the lawsuit.
Heather Korbulic, the interim
Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation chief named in the
lawsuit, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal for a Tuesday report that she
understands people are frustrated. She cited the complexity of starting an
application system from scratch and said the department hopes to have it
operating by Memorial Day.
"What we're trying to
achieve in a couple of months is something that under normal circumstances
would likely take about a year," she told the newspaper. "We have
contracted with a vendor, who has deployed this technology in several other
Thierman's clients — licensed
massage therapist Amethyst Payne and Iris Podesta-Mireles, a strip club dancer
and bartender — were among thousands of people idled eight weeks ago, when the
governor closed casinos and businesses deemed non-essential to prevent people
from congregating and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
Dmitri Koustas, a University
of Chicago researcher charting disbursal of federal Pandemic Unemployment
Assistance funds nationally, said it wasn't clear why Nevada was last to enact
the program. He said two other states, Arizona and Hawaii, were taking applications
but not yet processing or paying them.
The coronavirus relief bill
passed by Congress in March provided for payments to self-employed people who
are ineligible for regular unemployment benefits. Koustas said that in Nevada,
recipients should receive about $185 plus the additional $600 per week.