RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Glenn Youngkin has named Carrie Roth as the new commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission, the state agency hit with lawsuits over its struggles to handle unemployment claims after job losses during the pandemic drove people to seek benefits.

Roth will replace former VEC Commissioner Ellen Marie Hess, the governor’s spokeswoman confirmed to 8News Friday.

Roth has worked for and has deep ties to other Republican Virginia governors. She was the state’s deputy secretary of commerce and trade under former Gov. Bob McDonnell and served in former Gov. George Allen’s administration.

She was appointed by former Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam to the Virginia Board of Workforce Development, a term that ended in June 2020.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Roth is the founder of a consulting firm called Rerouted and serves on the board of Tympanogen, a medical technology company in Virginia Bio+Tech Park in Richmond.

Roth will now oversee an embattled VEC that has faced backlash from Virginians and lawmakers over the agency’s issues with communication and processing unemployment claims.

While many noted the unprecedented number of claims at the height of the pandemic, a state audit from November found the agency was poorly managed and had little oversight.

Last April, five Virginia residents struggling to get the unemployment benefits filed a federal class-action lawsuit against Hess alleging the agency violated claimants’ rights after not responding to complaints and abruptly putting people’s benefits on hold without quickly resolving disputed claims. 

After months of sharing information and acknowledging VEC’s efforts and progress to resolve an overwhelming number of disputed claims, the parties filed an order to end the lawsuit.