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‘Threats of violence’ among concerns as Georgia Department of Labor weighs reopening offices
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The Georgia Department of Labor office is located at 2756 Atlanta Highway in Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

The Georgia Department of Labor is factoring in “threats of violence” as it weighs reopening offices that have been closed since the COVID-pandemic began last year.

“We don’t have firm dates yet,” spokeswoman Kersha Cartwright told The Times this week, adding that when reopening happens, “it will be done in phases.”

“The most important factor is, of course, the safety of our staff and customers,” she said. “We have received several threats of violence, and this remains at the forefront of any plans for reopening.

“We will also continue to evaluate several safety and security indicators to make sure we follow all health regulations.”

Tensions have been high throughout the pandemic, with much of the public’s ire aimed at the department’s response to unemployment claims. Four Georgia residents are suing the state Department of Labor, saying delays in processing, paying and hearing appeals on unemployment claims violate state and federal law.

As federal unemployment benefits have ended, the department is requiring more accountability among claimants. Beginning Sunday, July 4, claimants will be required to submit three verifiable contacts of work search activities as part of the weekly certification process, according to the department.

The department’s offices, including one at 2756 Atlanta Highway in Gainesville, are intended for “reemployment services only,” Cartwright said.

“Unemployment insurance appeal hearings and eligibility reviews are all done 100% online or by phone,” she said. “If claimants need (unemployment insurance) assistance, we are continuing to encourage them to reach out to their local office via email, phone or through our social media platforms.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.