Unemployed Workers’ Union Sues the Governor of Maryland to Prevent Halt of Pandemic Benefits

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Unemployed Workers’ Union Sues the Governor of Maryland to Prevent Halt of Pandemic Benefits
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As the world slowly begins to settle into a new kind of normal, workers that remain unemployed following the pandemic have expressed alarm at the fact that COVID-19 unemployment benefits are set to end on Saturday, July 3rd. The Unemployed Workers Union responded to this impending change by filing a class action lawsuit against Maryland’s state labor secretary and Governor Larry Hogan.

The lawsuit seeks to ensure people receive the benefits they already filed for, as well as keeping federal COVID-era benefits in place.

According to WBAL TV, a recent hearing on the state’s unemployment system revealed a backlog of over 24,000 claims that are still on hold. The lawsuit argues that these claims need to be processed prior to any changes with the COVID-era unemployment benefits program; it follows up this assertion with the firm request that the COVID-era unemployment benefits not be halted, and instead be allowed to continue as Maryland residents continue to make their way back to their feet following the economic downturn of the pandemic.

The state and federal unemployment system exhibited some serious issues during the pandemic.

With the massive amount of people who were laid off or found their employment terminated as a result of the pandemic shutdowns, a record number of people found themselves filing for unemployment benefits around the country. The government responded by temporarily increasing the employment benefits for those affected by the pandemic, although the long call waiting lines and complicated filing process made it difficult for people to successfully complete their applications. These long delays are in part the inspiration for this lawsuit, pointing out that some people have been waiting months for their benefits to come through, in the meantime finding themselves falling behind in payments as they wait for the system to sort itself out.

Gov. Hogan cited the number of vaccinations and job supply in the state as the reason for canceling the enhanced benefits.

The governor and others argue that the dire need for these enhanced federal unemployment benefits have passed, as industries across the board are opening up and seeking workers once again. With vaccination rates steadily climbing and job supply increasing, the cancellation of enhanced benefits may at first seem reasonable. However, it’s important to remember that people who did not receive their benefits on time may have months of late and overdue payments to contend with, in addition to those moving into the future.

The results of this lawsuit will likely set a precedent for future similar lawsuits in other states as COVID-era unemployment and other policies begin being rolled away.

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