'My patience is running thin': Local woman shares unemployment obstacles

Posted at 3:50 PM, May 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-07 20:12:19-04

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. - Another week has come and gone, and like millions of Americans, Bridget Jernigan-Gregory says she still hasn't been paid.

"There has to be some patience that is demonstrated because these things just can't take place overnight, but at eight weeks in and not being able to get any answers from anybody, my patience is running thin," she says.

The college student and single mother of two also works as independent hairstylist, mainly servicing people who are living at long-term care facilities.

She lives in Elizabeth City and says she has been working in Chesapeake at the Harmony at Oakbrooke for quite some time. However, her trouble began on March 15 when she received a letter from the facility banning visitors from inside the building.

"It was a corporate decision that had come down for all of their facilities to restrict hairdressers from coming in to try and limit people in and out of the building," she says.

Now out of a job, she started looking into how to file for unemployment.

She says she contacted NCWorks, the organization that handles job searches in North Carolina, to see if she was eligible for the unemployment process.

"I inquired, 'What do I need to do? Do I need to file? If I do, these are the questions you know that I have. What information do I need to upload?'" she told News 3 reporter Erin Miller. "They did what they called 'sending my name up to DES,' or the commerce department for North Carolina. At three different times - I was supposed to allow up to four days for a callback. This took place over a period of two weeks [and I didn't ever get a response]," she says.

Related: Virginia Beach single mom one of millions to file record breaking unemployment claims

Fast forward to April 10. Multiple attempts later, Jernigan-Gregory says she was finally able to submit a claim, but it was confusing. She made a mistake uploading her forms and that error has left her in limbo with the state and federal government. She tells News 3 that more help should have been available so people aren't backed into a corner.

"I'm not able to file for the PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) for federal assistance because until you become denied, you can't make any changes; you can't re-file a claim, you can't file for unemployment, so I'm really just kind of dead in the water at this point," she says.

She has sent emails and faxes to the state and local senators, as well as made phone calls - some lasting upwards of five hours.

Even so, she says she still doesn't have answers and is now calling on Governor Roy Cooper.

"This issue needs to be addressed. This needs to be taken by the horns. He needs to take this bull by the horns, and it needs to be fixed," she says.

Even as of Thursday, her status is pending as we close in on another week.

The biggest piece of advice she offers to others is just to double check the information you are entering and to double check with someone before you submit. She says one small change can make or break you.

"If you still have to file, get with people that have filed people that are in the same type of situation that you are you," she says.

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