SACRAMENTO, Calif. — From unopened mail scattered around every office to no more than 20 people answering calls at any given time, four out of every 10 claims being flagged for manual review, and an average of one in 1,000 calls actually being answered, the Employment Development Department (EDD) Strike Team's report paints a vivid picture of what things really look like on the inside.
"They're constantly getting more and more behind. They're not making any more progress. They're not getting into the backlog," said Jennifer Shaw, an employment attorney.
It is a picture that Shaw had suspected was going on the whole time.
"They are utterly and completely overwhelmed. The software is too old, the hardware's not working quickly enough, they have a lot of new employees who don't have enough experience," she said.
The EDD has promised to clear their backlog, by January 2021, of the nearly 1.6 million people still waiting on benefits or verification of some kind.
"We're making huge process each and every single day, it doesn't mean that in January that's what people have to wait. We will be clearing backlog each and every day," said EDD Director Sharon Hilliard.
But Shaw says, in the real world, this wouldn't be the situation if a private employer were to withhold a paycheck, let alone six to nine months worth of checks that people are legally entitled to.
"Not only could an employer face a claim under the private Attorney General's act, which is sort of like a class action, very similar to a class action here in California, I mean there could be millions and millions and millions in penalties," Shaw said.
So the strike team laid out 70 recommendations for the EDD to change moving forward, starting with a complete upgrade of their system.
"The good news about that is we understand what's going on," Shaw said. "The bad news is, it is going to take some time to fix it."
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