I-Team 8

How the Department of Workforce Development stonewalls Hoosiers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A Marion County judge two weeks ago ordered the state to resume federal pandemic unemployment payments. 

It hasn’t happened. 

For months, News 8 has asked the Indiana Department of Workforce Development for a sit-down interview with its leader, Commissioner Fred Payne; News 8’s request have been repeatedly denied.

So on Wednesday, News 8 went to the state government’s office building to make a request in person.

The Department of Workforce Development main office appears to be right next to the public entrance of the Government Center South building.

“Hi, I’m Richard Essex of WISH-TV. We are trying to make an appointment to see the commissioner, Fred Payne,” News 8’s Richard Essex said. “Is this the office?”

Upon News 8’s arrival at the office, a security guard hired by the state said she wasn’t sure where Payne’s office was located.

“Well, you can go down there to the other office and get a hold of him,” she said.

The security guard escorted News 8 to another office that she called the intake office. Once inside that office, News 8 made the same request; a woman lady behind the desk at the intake office said she was new to the job and wasn’t sure who we needed to speak with.

After waiting an hour, News 8 was told someone was coming to talk.

Next thing that happened, the office door was closed and locked.

News 8 waited in a hallway after being promised someone would come to talk. No one ever appeared, so News 8 went back the first office.

As it turns out, News 8 were not the only ones in the building trying to get answers.

Kathi Dean told News 8 the Department of Workforce Development claims she was overpaid. Dean had grown tired of waiting for callbacks and unanswered emails, so she came to downtown Indianapolis for answers.

“What about people that worked for years and put time into this and have to work and wait and wait on this money?” Dean asked. “So if you want to stop our PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance), just go right ahead on and give us our money from unemployment back pay all at one time so we can go ahead on and live.”

A security guard told Dean to make an appointment.

News 8 continued to wait for someone from Workforce Development to come out and talk, or at least make an appointment.

Several people were in the office; none of them came to the door.

When will the Department of Workforce Development continue to distribute federal unemployment money? State officials on Wednesday continued their weeks of avoiding any answers for Hoosiers. 

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