Judge dismisses efforts by Virginia Employment Commission to dismiss lawsuit over delays in unemployment benefits
RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – A federal judge has dismissed a request by the Virginia Employment Commission to dismiss a lawsuit brought over the processing delays that plagued the state agency, siding with aid groups legal who argued that the effort was “premature.”
The commission lobbied for a dismissal in early August, saying it had already fulfilled the Federal Court agreement calling for 95 percent resolution of the 92,158 unpaid claims awaiting a decision as of May 10 before Labor Day.
Legal aid groups that filed the lawsuit on behalf of five Virginia women praised the VEC’s progress on the backlog, but cited several unresolved issues in a court file opposing the effort. In response, the plaintiffs asked the court for 45 days to allow the two sides to discuss and resolve the issues.
“The evidence available to plaintiffs’ lawyers indicates that tens of thousands more cases have been added to the adjudication backlog since May 10, and other evidence shows that very, very few cases are resolved in the past. the deadlines set by the US Department of Labor, ”the groups wrote in opposition to VEC’s demand for dismissal.
Lawyers for VEC argued that the agency “has met or exceeded” the targets, standards and deadlines set in the May settlement order.
“The VEC even reached the 95% completion standard for unpaid debts awaiting arbitration almost a month before the deadline for the September 6, 2021 settlement order,” they wrote in response. in the file of the plaintiffs in court. “This case has caused considerable disruption to VEC and emotional stress for its employees, who have collectively worked tirelessly since the settlement order came into effect to achieve these arbitration goals.”
Noting the complaints handled by his own office, the federal judge overseeing the case ordered the parties to meet and provide a progress report within 30 days of August 25 that details proposed benchmarks VEC must meet. for a resolution.
“The Court continues to receive frequent phone calls from people reporting difficulties in processing their claims and communicating with the VEC,” US District Judge Henry Hudson wrote in his ruling.
Meanwhile, millions of people receiving unemployment benefits under federal programs put in place in response to the pandemic – pandemic unemployment assistance, pandemic emergency unemployment benefit, unemployment benefit mixed income and federal pandemic unemployment benefit – will soon no longer receive these benefits as these programs are set to expire.
In Virginia, these programs expire on September 4th, but VEC says claimants who are entitled to benefits will still be paid even after the programs end.
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