An internal memo from the Maine Department of Labor indicates that a new $90 million unemployment claims system is not working properly and should not have ever been put online without considerable testing.
The document, which is marked “confidential,” also says that hundreds if not thousands of Mainers who were eligible for unemployment benefits either did not receive them in a timely manner, or never got them at all.
“I think those folks should definitely consider filing suit, I think there is a strong case to be made here that folks have been negatively harmed by the negligence at the department,” says state Rep. Ryan Fecteau, a Democrat from Biddeford who co-chairs the committee that oversees the Labor Department.
Lawmakers are particularly upset at the allegation that department documents were destroyed to hide the scope of the problems.
“I’m deeply troubled to learn that not only is this system broken and not serving Mainers in getting the unemployment benefit to which they are entitled, but senior management, instead of trying to fix the system, seems to be trying to cover up their problem,” says state Sen. Shenna Bellows, a Democrat from Manchester who also serves on the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee.
The department did not return calls seeking an explanation of the allegations in the memo.