Conspiracy theories have never interested me and gratefully, I don’t experience paranoia. There have been only one or two occasions where I had to recognize that I was being targeted and even then, I ignored the signs until it was impossible not to escape what had become obvious. Generally speaking, I guess I just prefer not to worry about much. Acknowledging and believing any of the things I just mentioned kind of creates a need to worry, so I avoid that.
Today, though, I have to admit that I am dealing with a bully and a very nasty, powerful bully at that.
The California Employment Development Department has become a government sanctioned bully. I don’t think it has always been the case, but, now I can’t ignore the signs.
When I won a recent appeal of an EDD determination, the ALJ (Administrative Law Judge) told me to expect repercussions because my file was evidently flagged. To be truthful, I chose not to believe her. I countered this warning in my head by thinking she must be having some personal issues with her job and was venting some resentment.
I should have heeded her warning.
Since that appeal hearing, the EDD has been relentless. The ALJ decision reversing their determination and reinstating my claim has been ignored. But that is the least of the tornado unleashed by the EDD on my attempts to continue with my claim.
I have received letter upon letter of determinations that claim the exact same accusations and denial of benefits that my original appeal had addressed, and I have had to separately request an appeal for each and every one of them. Even though the requests were received and even though the law requires that a determination be reviewed upon notice of appeal, there will be no review. There will be no admission of receiving my appeal request forms. Despite my having their own documentation stating that the paperwork was received, it doesn’t matter.
Because they are allowed to act without oversight, without a means to contact and without being held accountable to tell the truth or obey their own laws, some of us, the unemployed in California, are dealt with brutally. They hold our feet to the fire, requiring compliance with their rules while withholding benefit payments that are needed in order to comply.
And then they run you up a flag pole, directing you to send email that is then ignored and whether or not it gets a response, the information in the message is kept out of your file. There is no record of giving them the information they demanded be sent.
What is in your file may shock you. In my case, an interviewer documented statements he claimed I had made that were diametrically contradictory to what had actually been said. Then he based the decision to deny benefits and demand repayment with penalties for lying on the false statements he attributed to having been made by me.
Fortunately, the ALJ reviewed the evidence and the actual circumstances negated the possibility that I had made these statements. The EDD lied and the judge reversed their decision.
But they weren’t penalized. In fact, they don’t care what was decided. They refuse to pay benefits and there is nothing ANYONE can do about that.
They are one, unsupervised and out of control bully terrorizing whomever they please in the ranks of the unemployed. They kick and abuse the people with the least ability to protect themselves. They force people to live in a limbo state where they can no longer purchase food but also do not qualify for subsidized food programs. They force us to search for work hungry, often rendered homeless and to interview in clothes we can no longer afford to wash travelling by foot after having been forced to liquidate the family car in order to survive another unexpected month of absolute poverty.
Who is responsible for this? Who is supposed to be watching and accounting for the actions of the EDD? Why have they been given freevreign to abuse their powers? It is wrong. It is so very wrong. I hope someday they are held to justify the havoc and suffering they caused to those who were chosen as “flagged”.
It is a total disgrace.