On April 15, several legal aid groups and two free law firms filed the lawsuit in Richmond Federal Court on behalf of five residents of Virginia. Last week, the Virginia Attorney General, representing VEC Commissioner Ellen Marie Hess, asked US District Judge Henry E. Hudson for an extension to respond to the lawsuit.
Hudson originally agreed to give the VEC until May 11th. not on May 29th as they had hoped, but then granted a further extension until May in a court order submitted on Monday. He revealed that the legal teams had initiated settlement talks in his appointment.
“The parties have since entered into settlement talks that the Court believes are fruitful,” Hudson wrote in the order.
Lawsuit: Virginia is the slowest in the country when it comes to dealing with unemployment problems
A spokesman for one of the plaintiffs’ legal aid groups, Legal Aid Justice, told 8News on Thursday that Hudson and the parties had met on Monday to discuss how problems could be resolved at the commission.
“We appreciate Judge Hudson’s intervention and hope it will quickly result in a resolution for our clients and the classes identified in the lawsuit,” Jeff Jones, spokesman for the Legal Aid Justice Center, said in an email.
A spokeswoman for the attorney general referred 8News to the Virginia Employment Commission. A VEC spokeswoman declined to comment on the settlement talks.
The class action lawsuit alleges that the commission in charge of the state unemployment insurance system violated federal and state unemployment laws and applicants’ procedural rights under the U.S. Constitution by failing to promptly respond to claims, complaints, and claims Decisions responding in cases to involve those who had benefited suddenly stopped.
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The plaintiffs, who wanted a judicial process by a jury, requested “declaratory and interim injunctions” and “decision and payment of unemployment benefits, a ban on further violations of the law and, if necessary, a declaratory and interim injunction; for legal fees and costs,” the lawsuit says .
According to the US Department of LaborFor the first three months of the year, Virginia ranks last nationwide when it comes to determining cases within 21 days. The Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission was hired to review how the Virginia Employment Commission handled unemployment insurance claims.
The JLARC studyOn November 15, the impact of the pandemic on the VEC, the effectiveness of its response and the administration of the state unemployment insurance program will be examined by the Employment Commission. It also examines how VEC will modernize its IT program, a 12-year effort that resumed in April, according to JLARC’s executive director.
This story evolves. Check for updates again.