Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployed Georgians experienced extreme delays in the processing of their unemployment claims by the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL). The SPLC and its co-counsel, Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore LLP, filed a class action lawsuit in Fulton County that describes how the GDOL’s delays violate state and federal law.
The pandemic led to devastating levels of unemployment in Georgia. At its peak, unemployment in Georgia rose to 12.6%. Congress allocated $67 million to Georgia to assist the GDOL with three temporary unemployment insurance benefits created under the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act. Yet Georgians still waited months for their claims to be processed while also experiencing excessive delays in receiving payments or having their appeals heard when their claims are rejected, according to the lawsuit.
The GDOL’s system failed at every level. As a result, the lawsuit seeks relief for three separate classes of individuals who have experienced extreme delays in:
- receiving initial determinations regarding benefits;
- and the actual payment benefits.
This lawsuit is brought by four plaintiffs who have experienced delays and have claims that are representative and typical of the class claims. For example, plaintiff Von King, at the time of the lawsuit’s filing, had been waiting almost a year to have her appeal heard.
All the other plaintiffs and class members have experienced months of uncertainty while trying to pay rent and utilities, feed themselves and their families, and pay regular expenses, such as medical bills and car payments.
The plaintiffs ask for a declaration that the GDOL’s delays violate Georgia’s statutory requirement that it act “promptly”; for an injunction to compel the GDOL to comply with that state law and to enforce the plaintiffs’ federal due process rights; and for monetary damages.