Workers’ rights group Working Washington is calling the state’s Employment Security Department a “failure.”
In a new report titled “System Failure,” Working Washington shows how easy it is to end up in adjudication or denied benefits altogether from Employment Security.
“We have a system which is designed to lean toward rejecting claims, rather than paying benefits,” he said Sage Wilson, a spokesperson for Working Washington.
To date, there are still more than 20,000 people waiting to see if they qualify for benefits. People out of work have told KIRO Radio that they have waited for months with neither word nor money from ESD, in the meantime having to figure out how to put food on the table.
A look at Washington state’s five Employment Security audits
Wilson said the system gives people the very opposite of the benefit of the doubt, noting that the simplest of discrepancies in paperwork can land a person in months of unemployment limbo.
“Almost any kind of technical mistake — something as simple as a name or a date mismatch on two sets of records — generally triggers what they call a flag or a rejection,” Wilson said.
As an example, he said, “Say your employer records your hours under a nickname, say Susie, and you fill out the form as Susan — things as simple as that, which are glitches in the truest way, can turn into a spiral of waiting or rejection.”
The report states that this falls disproportionately on people of color, especially as language barriers could contribute to an error

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