lawsuit against TN Gov. Bill Lee for ending unemployment benefits

Unemployed Tenneseers are struggling to get the $ 300 a week from the federal government that the state turned down earlier this month

MEMPHIS, Tennessee – Unemployed people from Tennessee filed a class action lawsuit against Governor Bill Lee to reclaim the $ 300 a week from the federal government that the state declined earlier this month. Lee said ending social benefits would get people back to work.

Alex Longstreet is one of many fighting for the money he and thousands of others are entitled to.

“I don’t want anyone to look like I’m lazy, I don’t want to work,” said Longstreet. “I will work.”

When the benefits ended on July 3rd, Longstreet was living on $ 86 a week. Now it’s going to zero.

“It just takes me to a place where I have to either choose to eat or risk my life and find a job,” Longstreet said.

Attorney Gary Blackburn said his clients should get this money through government COVID-19 relief funds and government programs.

“We argue in this case that these programs do not give authority to the governor simply because he had a political disagreement to deprive these people and other Tenneseers of the benefits of these programs,” Blackburn said.

While Lee is named as a defendant, Blackburn said this is not about politics. The state could appeal if an injunction is issued.

“I know it attacks measures taken by politicians, but I’m not here to question their motives,” said Blackburn. “I’m here to question the legality of what you did.”

Families, businesses, and our economies thrive when we focus on meaningful employment. With the federal pandemic unemployment programs ending July 3, free resources will be available to help Tenneseers learn more, find employment, and get back into the job market. https://t.co/R7DkNhF38R pic.twitter.com/f5LDIpBmG8

– Governor Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) June 29, 2021

Longstreet said he had applied for a hundred jobs in the past two weeks but had not received a callback. While he wants to work, he worries about the current increase in COVID-19 cases.

“People want to know if they’re safe, or if it’s an air-conditioned environment, if they’re two or three meters apart,” Longstreet said.

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