The Connecticut Department of Labor shut down its unemployment appeals feature on its ReEmployCT website after 54 filers’ information was potentially exposed, according to a press release issued by DOL Commissioner Dante Bartolomeo.
“On behalf of CTDOL, I sincerely apologize to these 54 claimants whose information was potentially exposed,” Bartolomeo said. “This is a wholly unacceptable situation. We expect ReEmployCT to be a robust, high-quality, high-functioning system.”
The exposure was caused by a “technical error” that impacted unemployment appeals filed between Friday January 20, 2023, through Tuesday, January 24. The information included names, addresses, social security numbers and other documents related to a filers’ unemployment application.
The unemployment appeals website remained closed at the time of the press release, which came on Thursday, two days after the shutdown of the website, which services nearly 30,000 weekly unemployment filers.
The technical problem was the latest for ReEmployCT, which launched in July of 2022 and immediately faced some technical issues, leaving unemployment filers saying they could not access the site and were not able to reach anyone on the phone for help.
Despite the issues, ReEmployCT saw 17,000 claimants file and paid out $8.5 million in benefits in the first week. The new online unemployment system was developed as part of a federal program in Connecticut and several other states and was meant to streamline the process.
Although Connecticut had been working to upgrade its unemployment system in 2018, it was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic and subsequent government shutdown of businesses saw hundreds of thousands of people filing for unemployment and strained DOL’s resources and ability to meet demand.
Although the information leak appears troubling, CT DOL indicates it was very limited. “Filers had to be logged into a specific screen in the ReEmployCT system to have viewed the information,” and said they cannot confirm if “any claimant information was viewed by the unauthorized filer.”
The agency contacted those affected by the error and has offered them two years of credit monitoring and CT DOL reported the incident to both the Attorney General’s Office, the Office of the State Comptroller and the Auditors of Public Accounts.
“While we anticipate service interruptions for updates and maintenance, CTDOL will not tolerate lapses that risk information or interfere with the unemployment system,” Bartolomeo said. “Unemployment benefits are part of the social safety net; Connecticut’s workforce and our employers depend on it.”