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Lawsuit Against Indiana Seeks To Keep Federal Unemployment Benefits Around

By Justin Hicks, IPB News | Published on in Economy, Government, Law
The reflection of the statehouse in the Department of Workforce Development headquarters in Indianapolis. (Justin Hicks/IPB News)
The reflection of the Statehouse in the Department of Workforce Development headquarters in Indianapolis. Fred Payne, head of the agency, is listed as a defendant in the lawsuit. (Justin Hicks/IPB News)

Indiana legal groups are taking the state to court over its decision to end federal unemployment benefits at the end of the week. They said the state is violating its own law which says it must give citizens all rights and benefits of federal laws.

Plaintiffs include the Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis and several Hoosiers affected by the state’s decision. That includes not just a boost of $300 for all unemployed claimants, but entirely strips benefits from people on programs for self-employed workers and those who’ve gone past the state’s maximum time limit for benefits.

In court documents, several who lost work due to no fault of their own, said lack of child care or ongoing quarantines and business closures mean they’ll likely be evicted without federal benefits.

Department of Workforce Development data shows the end of federal benefits would impact around 160,000 Hoosiers, with almost 80 percent of them losing all unemployment benefits.

In the last four weeks, an average of 60,948 people applied for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, 69,107 for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and 34,322 for the state’s regular unemployment insurance.

Jennifer Terry, an Indiana Legal Services attorney representing the plaintiffs, said they also asked the judge for an injunction that would temporarily halt the state’s ability to end federal benefits.

“At this point we don’t know when that hearing on the preliminary injunction might occur, but we hope that it will happen fast,” she says.

Unless that happens, all federal unemployment benefits related to the pandemic will end this Sunday.

Contact reporter Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.