FILE - Unemployment line

(The Center Square) – The Virginia Employment Commission launched an upgraded unemployment system last week designed to make it more modern.

Under the new system, customers can access documents online and view a customer dashboard for claims filing status and other inquiry investment. According to the VEC, its changes to claims filing were also upgraded to improve user experience.

The changes are the third and final phase of a multi-year effort to modernize VEC systems.

“We are extremely proud of the work our team has invested in this effort,” VEC Commissioner Ellen Marie Hess said in a statement. “We look forward to the improvements this system will provide to our customers.”

The VEC faced harsh criticism and even a class-action lawsuit for how it handled nonmonetary eligibility cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the department was legally required to process these cases within three weeks, it failed to meet that deadline in 95% of cases, according to a lawsuit filed in April. Most reviews took 10 weeks or longer to process, but some dragged out for more than a year.

Officials blamed the slow processing on an uptick in cases caused by the pandemic, a lack of personnel and the need for upgrades. A judge ordered the VEC to double the number of cases it adjudicates every week and to clear the backlog. Although the VEC met the judge’s order, the lawsuit is still in effect and the court is monitoring the additional case pile-up that occured during that time period.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and West Virginia for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.