A number of residents in states that moved to rescind federal unemployment benefits that were passed into law due to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic have filed lawsuits against their governors.
Now, thousands of residents in Texas, Maryland, and Indiana have filed lawsuits seeking to restore the $300 extra per week in benefits. The three states were among dozens of GOP-led states that decided last month to end the benefits program early, arguing that the extra weekly income created an incentive for people not to return to the workforce amid a shortage of labor.
The supplemental benefit is slated to expire in September, which will come about 18 months after Congress authorized the expanded payments as part of the CARES Act in March 2020.
More than 30,000 Texans filed a suit against Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, for doing away with the program early, alleging he overstepped his authority. According to a report from the Houston Chronicle, the plaintiffs organized via Facebook to file the legal petition.
The plaintiffs, meanwhile, crowdfunded to hire an attorney, David Sibley, who filed a lawsuit last month in Austin’s state court.
“Texas has what is known as a weak governor and a large part of Texas is run by commissions,” Sibley told the newspaper, referring to the state government system. “We just believe the governor is acting outside of his authority, and it’s something the TWC (Texas Workforce Commission) should address.”
Abbott, in response to the suit, said that the “number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment benefits,” echoing a concern expressed by business owners and business groups who have reported a worker shortage in recent months.
In recent weeks, two lawsuits were filed against Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, also a Republican, and Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson, for allegedly violating state law. The plaintiffs in that suit have argued that ending the benefits early would harm families who are struggling to find employment amid the pandemic.
But several days ago, a judge in Baltimore ordered the state of Maryland to continue paying the expanded benefits. Hogan said he would appeal the ruling.
“In its global scope and in the anxiety that almost all people experience over the threat of disease, the impact of the pandemic has been universal, but the brief stories of these Plaintiffs reminds the Court that the impact of the pandemic has been cruelly uneven,” reads the court order. “Some have suffered death or debilitating illness themselves, in their families, or among their friends,” it added.
And in mid-June, several Indiana residents filed a lawsuit against Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to reinstate the program.
“It’s not black and white,” Shanon Singer-Mann, one of the plaintiffs, told the Indianapolis Star at the time. “Everybody’s story is not the same. I’m not going back to work, not at the risk of my son’s life.”
A judge ruled late last month that the state must continue the enhanced unemployment program.
“A loss of housing or medical care and the inability to provide food, shelter and adequate childcare for a family constitute irreparable harm pending resolution of this cause of action and are not adequately compensable by an award of damages,” Marion County Judge John Hanley wrote in his order.