Lawmaker goes undercover to expose bad service at unemployment office

Posted: Updated:

A New Jersey assemblywoman went undercover inside the Bergen County unemployment office in order to expose bad service.

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi visited the office in Hackensack herself Monday after receiving a complaint by New Jersey resident Monica Brinson. Brinson says that she has visited the office many times seeing benefits and says that she felt as if she was treated like an inmate.

“There’s one person working…she may start at 9 a.m. when the office opens at 8:30 a.m.,” Brinson says. “I’ve also seen employees taking a nice winter’s nap upstairs, just hibernating…just chilling out on our tax dollars.”

Assemblywoman Schepisi went inside the office and recorded what went on with her cellphone. The video, posted to Facebook, shows a crowded office. People said on the video that they had been waiting at the office for hours.

There was one employee working to handle all the claims, as well as an armed guard. The guard eventually told the assemblywoman that she couldn’t record inside the office.

Brinson says that she called the assemblywoman for help exposing the office. She says that the office didn’t always open on time and sometimes people were forced to wait out in the cold.

“I think that’s why you have an armed guard there, because things I think sometimes do fester and erupt,” Schepisi says. “It’s a situation that almost creates that festering.”

A spokesperson for the state Department of Labor says that sometimes offices do see high traffic, but notes, “the stories we have heard are not acceptable. We are committed to improving these conditions through proper staffing and better customer service.”

Schepisi says she plans to go undercover as a normal citizen again at more state agency offices. She also says she's working with the Department of Labor to learn new recommendations for improving service at unemployment offices.

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