Amethyst Payne, owner of Therapeutic Massage by Amethyst, told The Nevada Independent she hopes that unlocking unemployment benefits will help replenish her depleted savings and allow her to stay current on rent at her home and at her massage studio.
Amethyst Payne describes herself as a healer. And while she’s been unable to practice her craft of therapeutic massage for the past two months, she’s hoping to bring healing to weary Nevadans in a different way — by pursuing a lawsuit pushing the state to get unemployment benefits to independent workers more quickly.
By Michelle Rindels – May 14th, 2020
Payne, who owns Therapeutic Massage by Amethyst in Reno, is one of two plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed Tuesday against the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation. It seeks to compel the state to start accepting applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance — a new federal program to serve independent contractors who are generally ineligible for unemployment.
“It’s a roller coaster ride. I try to look at the upside of things all the time. Honestly, during the time I have had emotional breakdowns. I have been depressed,” she said. “We can’t just sit around and wait and expect to be able to feed our children.”
The agency has said that it plans to accept applications by mid-May, although it hasn’t put a date on it, and a spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit. DETR Director Heather Korbulic has said the agency is working as fast and as hard as it can to get a new system up and running, and is hopeful working with a vendor that has implemented the module elsewhere.
But lawyer Mark Thierman, who helped file the suit, said the state needs to be specific about its timeline and was troubled that Korbulic said in an interview published Tuesday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the implementation could take another 10 days. He said the threat of being in contempt of court for not complying could help induce the state to at least start accepting application materials.