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Many Las Vegas workers in limbo without work or unemployment pay

Updated April 6, 2020 - 9:03 am

When Nevada casinos shut down on March 18, a number of local operators offered employees one or two weeks of pay and benefits.

That time is up for a number of workers in the Las Vegas Valley. With the unemployment insurance office backed up with a record number of claims, many are left wondering when they’ll see any sort of benefits come in.

Tommy, a former Bellegio employee who declined to give his last name to protect his ability to return to his job, said he submitted his unemployment insurance claim after his last day of work on March 15, and he’s still waiting for it to be approved. His last check from MGM was on March 26.

“I have no idea how far down the line I am (in this process) or when the money’s coming in,” he said. “(I’m) sitting in (no man’s) land.”

Waiting in limbo

Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Rosa Mendez said there are no additional resources the department can provide for those waiting for their claims to be processed.

She suggested those in need explore resources like Three Square food bank or other nonprofits for assistance, and contact utilities like NV Energy, the Las Vegas Valley Water District and Southwest Gas to make sure service won’t be suspended. Gov. Steve Sisolak has also halted all evictions.

A former Bellagio employee who works in retail — and was granted anonymity to protect his ability to return to the job — has already made one trip to a food bank, and recently applied for food stamps. It’s his only source of income for the month.

The retail worker said his unemployment insurance claim was flagged because he had been a recent hire. He spoke with a state employee about his claim over the phone Wednesday, but he’s still unsure when — or if — he can expect unemployment insurance benefits.

His last paycheck was March 27. An electronic letter from DETR says he won’t be entitled to benefits until April 25; he’s unsure why and has been unable to get through the phone lines to have questions answered.

“Retail doesn’t pay the highest wages, so you don’t have a huge nest egg,” he said. “I don’t have anyone to fall back on; I’m not that lucky. … If (the shutdown) keeps going, I’m going to have to look for a different job, and it’s not like (new workers are) in high demand now.”

Tommy said he calls the office daily to see if he can have someone answer questions on his claim but has been unable to get through the phone lines, which he has dubbed the “unemployment lottery.”

He has cash on hand and isn’t worried about making ends meet now, but his wife — who is also out of work — had her claim flagged as well. The two aren’t sure when either of them will see benefits come through and are waiting on their $1,200 stimulus checks to help carry them over.

Tommy said he’s more concerned about colleagues who are in even worse situations.

“If we’re struggling, so is everybody else,” he said. “That’s the scary part.”

Which companies’ shutdown-related pay periods have expired?

Caesars Entertainment Corp.: The company said it would continue to pay full-time, part-time and regularly scheduled team members for up to two weeks following the temporary closure of properties on March 18. Most workers’ pay ran through Friday, spokesman Richard Broome said. Roughly 90 percent of the company’s U.S. employees were furloughed.

Golden Nugget: A statement from the downtown property said that “all active full-time and part-time team members” — those who were working up until the closure — would receive two weeks of pay during the shutdown. Spokespeople did not respond to requests asking to confirm that the two-week period is over.

MGM Resorts International: The company said part-time and full-time furloughed employees would receive two weeks of pay and benefits during the shutdown. Spokespeople did not respond to requests asking to confirm that the company is no longer paying furloughed workers.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

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