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THE INVESTIGATORS: La. govt. worker’s profanity-filled rant over DSNAP benefits caught on voicemail

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 4:37 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The 9News Investigators have uncovered a recorded voice mail that captured a Louisiana government worker’s profanity-filled rant where she criticized the program and those who are calling in to apply for the program.

This comes as the second week kicks off for folks across the state to apply for the benefits. Several families statewide have turned to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to apply for the disaster food stamps. It’s a process that’s supposed to help folks buy groceries to replace what they lost because of the storm but when Hermaine Collins tried to call last week, she says her experience with DSNAP was a disaster.

“That is horrible,” said Collins. “I mean, I’ve been through some worse things but that is horrible because that was something I was trying to do for my kids’ sake.”

Collins said Ida knocked her power out for two days, meaning everything in her fridge had to go. Last week, when she picked up the phone to call DCFS for help to replace those groceries, she took advantage of the virtual hold option. Instead of waiting on hold for a long time, callers can choose the virtual option, which allows them to hang up and request a callback from DCFS. When a worker called her back, she says the voicemail that a female worker left on her phone was downright disrespectful.

“She was like saying all kind of vulgar stuff and like calling me such names that I refuse to say. I mean, it was just horrible,” added Collins.

The recording captures what appears to be a frustrated DCFS worker unloading in a profanity-filled tirade. Not only can the worker be heard complaining about the virtual hold system put in place by the state but she can also be heard speaking negatively about those who are desperately calling in for help.

“They started this bullsh*t where they can do a virtual hold while waiting for a worker to come on … it’s bullsh*t because they don’t answer,” said the worker. “Sometimes, I hate these f*ckers.”

Listen to the full voicemail below:

Here is a transcript of the voicemail:

DCFS worker: “Why is this being crazy?” They need to shut… They started this bull sh*t of they can do a virtual hold while waiting for a worker to come on. It’s bull sh*t because they don’t answer…. Sometimes I hate these f*ckers!”

*Rustling*

DCFS worker: “Oh shoot!”

*Rustling*

{inaudible}

DCFS worker: “On my regular office phone and I can’t answer because I’m doing DSNAP. I’m up to 25 messages. I mean, they’re calling and just the DSNAP people they have no access to our numbers but these are my regular SNAP clients and I just.. who the hell has time for that you know? But they tell us to … {inaudible}… Great!”

*Rustling*

DCFS worker: “Nobody knows what to eat.” {inaudible talking from another voice}

DCFS worker: “Why is this on hold?”

*Rustling*

{inaudible}

{music plays}

Collins was asked if it’s hard to know that this is how some state employees talk about those who need help.

“It’s horrible to know that our own people feel that way. I hope she do better. I really do because that was wrong. I really hope she do better,” replied Collins.

She said she cannot believe the voicemail that was left on her phone and she thinks the worker was talking to a coworker at the time and did not know her comments were being recorded. The worker can be heard complaining to a man about the number of voicemails she has had to make. Not long after she launches into those complaints, the line is put on hold as music begins to play.

“It really crushes me because like I’m doing this for my kids and you’re like acting like it don’t matter,” said Collins.

The mother of four said what she heard made her feel lower than low. She believes the most devastating part is knowing that in her time of need a state employee would not only talk badly about her but everyone else who is desperately trying to put food on the table.

“It’s probably nothing to her but that’s something we need, especially at a time like this. We need this,” added Collins.

The 9News Investigators reached out to DCFS and sent agency representatives a copy of the recording. DCFS Secretary Marketa Walters condemned the actions of the employee and assured the public the matter will be taken seriously in the following statement.

“I wish they would pick better representatives with better attitudes,” said Collins.

She added the damage is done and even though she needs the help, she believes her dignity is worth more. She said she will not call DCFS back for the benefits because of how she was treated.

“I can’t. I need to but I can’t. I just can’t. I’m not calling in to experience that … not again,” she explained.

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