RICHMOND — The Virginia Employment Commission asked a judge this week for extra time to respond to a class-action lawsuit over long delays processing jobless claims.
Virginia officials ask to delay lawsuit over unemployment insurance delays | Govt. & PoliticsMay 7, 2021
The request drew a mocking response from the plaintiffs’ lawyers and was largely rejected by a federal judge, who limited the extension to just four days. The state had requested three weeks.
“In defense of a lawsuit premised on the allegation that the VEC cannot timely respond to Virginians seeking federal insured unemployment, the VEC suggests that it also cannot timely respond to them here,” wrote lawyers for the plaintiffs who have been waiting months for benefits. “If this defendant, with all its resources and what should be both a legal and political motivation to avoid delay, cannot answer a fairly simple complaint 30 days after first receiving a copy, the VEC has bigger problems still.”
Virginia has struggled to keep with a surge of unemployment insurance claims since the pandemic began, continuing to rank last in the country in key federal performance benchmarks.
A coalition of legal aid groups, led by Charlottesville’s Legal Aid Justice Center and the private law firm Consumer Litigation Associates, filed the lawsuit last month on behalf of five residents around the state after concluding the state was making no serious efforts to improve the situation, which has left thousands waiting months for what are intended to be emergency benefits.