(The Center Square) – Virginia’s failure to adequately handle the surge in unemployment claims during the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a class action lawsuit led by several groups.
The Commonwealth was declared dead as the last country in the country to process jobless claims and is deteriorating increasingly. The Virginia Unemployment Commission did not make timely decisions on non-monetary eligibility issues 95% of the time. Although state law requires this to be completed within three weeks, it took almost every week for almost all claims to be met. Some allegations took much longer.
Some of the groups launching the lawsuit are the Virginia Poverty Law Center and the Legal Aid Justice Center. In a press release, the groups admitted that the initial surge may have taken the VEC by surprise, but the Commonwealth is now a full year in pandemic and many eligible Virginians have not been able to get federal and state funds on time despite the state’s award of US 38 million. Dollars in federal money to step up the response to the unemployment pandemic.
“After cutting benefits, I became homeless for about four months,” Lenita Gibson, one of the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “I now have no income other than food stamps. For the time being, I have a roof over my head again, only through temporary support through rental assistance programs. The financial loss was enormous and emotionally you are just a wreck. It was terrible. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would be treated like this. It makes no sense.
Virginia’s failure to process unemployment benefits has also been criticized by conservative groups. Stephen Haner, Senior Fellow of State and Local Tax Policy at the Thomas Jefferson Institute on the Open Market, described the situation as a “fiasco”.
“The agency’s level of incompetence was only achieved through the indifference of the government and the silence of the state media,” said Haner.
Unemployment increased significantly at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic due to economic restrictions, and some people voluntarily chose to avoid other people. Although restrictions have been eased, the state still has restrictive measures in place and has not fully recovered from its spike in unemployment.
In the Commonwealth, there is still a midnight curfew on dining in restaurants, a requirement that tables be three feet apart, a mask mandate, and strict restrictions on social gatherings at events.
The Northam administration did not respond to a request for comment.