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Laid-off El Paso workers struggle to get claims processed for unemployment benefits

EL PASO, Texas -- The outbreak of coronavirus has led many business to temporarily shutdown. Movie theaters are some of the hardest hit at this time. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered guidelines suggesting that movie theaters cease operations, and many have been out of operation since March 15.

"They send out a company memo that we were going to get furloughed until further notice, if this doesn't take too long that we'd be able to go back to our positions," Melissa Delgadillo, a manager at Flix Brewhouse said. The company is nearing 10 days of inactivity leaving many employees on edge over what comes next, including Delgadillo. She tried to apply for unemployment benefits online as she was instructed to do so at work but could not access her account, forcing her to call the 800 number.

"From the moment that I called it tells us that we are experiencing heavier than usual call volumes and it just knocks you off the call,” Delgadillo said.

Delgadillo is not the only person out of work, thousands of Texans have been laid off due to the outbreak of the virus, overflowing the capacity of the Texas Workforce Commission.

"With the impacts of the COVID-19 virus, TWC is experiencing a significant increase in the number of people calling the unemployment insurance number and visiting the TWC website which includes information for citizens about TWC programs, such as Unemployment Insurance," Cisco Gamez of the Texas Workforce Commision said.

The agency is working to accommodate all Texans who are out of work right now, and there are currently 1,000 employees answering calls and reviewing cases.

“We are making changes in real time. We are monitoring the situation hour by hour, we are working extended hours and into the evening and the weekend to help accommodate the number of people who are applying and trying to make their way through,” Gamez said.

While the wait to speak with someone who can process an unemployment case may be long at this time, TWC wants to assure all Texans they will receive their benefits if they qualify for them.

“If you qualify for unemployment insurance you will receive benefits, I know there is a sense of urgency or maybe they are home because there are not working and they have this time on their hands. We want to be able to help them, we want them to get through. We are here for them and we understand their situation its not just them, they are our neighbors our friends and our family. We are all in this together,” Gamez said.

In the meantime, ABC-7 reached out to Flix Brewhouse about their employees who have been laid off they sent us the following statement...

"Flix Brewhouse considers this closure temporary and no one at our El Paso theater has been permanently laid off. We are anxious to learn how long it will be until we can reopen and welcome back our amazing team members and our equally amazing and loyal El Paso guests. Flix softened the blow by paying out everybody’s accumulated sick and vacation pay last week and continuing salaried workers to the end of their pay period."

For anyone looking to apply for unemployment benefits in Texas they should feel free to follow this link.

Coronavirus Video / El Paso / News / Video

JC Navarrete

El Paso native JC Navarrete co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend newscasts and reports during the week.

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