Virginia Unemployment Commission Violates Laws, Resulted in Lawsuit
People who have been laid off for work in Virginia have brought a class action lawsuit against the state’s employment commission, arguing that they failed to provide people with urgently needed unemployment insurance amid the pandemic.
The Class Action Lawsuit
While the VUC may have been surprised by the demand for unemployment insurance funds at the start of the pandemic, a full year has passed.
Nonetheless, the agency continues to face payment delays. Due to the requirement that additional federal unemployment benefits be approved by the VUC, these delays also prevent Virginia residents from receiving federal payments.
This is despite Virginia receiving over $38 million in federal assistance to bolster its administrative response to the unemployment crisis.
Numerous individuals applied for unemployment insurance months ago and have received no response from the VUC. According to the United States Supreme Court, the speed with which benefits are paid is a fundamental feature of the unemployment benefit system.
Plaintiffs Ashley Cox, Emily Dimond, Penny Williams, Amber Dimmerling, and Lenita Gibson filed a class action lawsuit in a federal court in Virginia on Thursday, alleging that the Virginia Unemployment Commission violated the constitution and federal and state laws in the processing of unemployment benefits.
They claimed that the unemployment compensation system failed the vast majority of Virginians in their time of need. The class action lawsuit claims that insurance appeals were either left to stagnate for months without a plan or were abruptly cut off without warning. The state commission’s alleged failures affected people’s federal benefits as well.
According to the group, the commission’s setbacks impacted Virginia’s most marginalized communities, with Black Virginians accounting for 45% of those eligible for welfare benefits by June 2020.
According to US Department of Labor data, Virginia alleges that it has only established eligibility in 2% of cases on time, ranking it 53rd out of 53 US jurisdictions in determining basic eligibility issues.
According to the class action complaint, the commission is accused of violating the Social Security Act, the 14th Amendment right to due process, and the Virginia Unemployment Compensation Act. The only defendant named is Virginia Employment Commissioner Ellen Marie Hess.
What Makes Things Worse
To make matters worse, the class action alleges that these unconscionable bureaucratic failures have harmed more than just access to regular state unemployment benefits.
Significant federal assistance – including additional federal payments of up to $600 per week – has also been halted, as those benefits will be paid through the state unemployment system.
The class action lawsuit aims to represent two groups of people: those who applied for benefits but did not obtain them and those who were given benefits but had them unexpectedly terminated without warning.
According to the claim, the role of the unemployment system is to provide cash assistance to employees as soon as possible after they lose their jobs.
The plaintiffs are seeking civil forfeiture relief, as well as reimbursement of unemployment benefits, protection against further suspected legal breaches, lawyers’ fees, and expenses, and a court hearing.
Editor’s Note on Virginia Unemployment Commission Class Action Lawsuit:
This article is published to inform you of the latest class action lawsuit filed against the Virginia Unemployment Commission because they failed to aid people during the pandemic with their unemployment benefits.
Case Name & No.: Ashley Cox et al. v. Ellen M. Hess, Case No. 3:21-cv-00253, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
Products/Services: Virginia Unemployment Commission’s unemployment benefits
Allegations: Virginia Unemployment Commission failed to provide unemployed people welfare benefits
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