The Georgia Department of Labor is facing a lawsuit from unemployed workers who say their claims still have not been processed.
The lawsuit has six co-defendants, all of whom are currently unemployed. They cite the agency’s failure to process claims and the lack of justification for the denials as the justification for the suit against the department and Commissioner Mark Butler. The Georgia Legal Services Program (GLSP) is assisting the plaintiffs in the case, as is the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Atlanta Legal Aid Society.
The sought remedy, however, is an order from a Fulton County Superior Court Judge requiring the GDOL to process workers’ claims in ‘a timely manner.’ “Georgia law mandates that [GDOL] promptly determine eligibility, pay unemployment insurance claims, and schedule appeal hearings,” the lawsuit states. It seeks to enact a five to 30 day window by the state to respond to claims for unemployment.
The GDOL has not commented publicly on the pending legal matter but in August of 2020, the agency released the following with regard to unsatisfied claims:
“92% of all valid claims have received benefits in the past 19 weeks where a payment has been requested, but many of the others are not eligible for payment per state and federal law. Over 135,000 claims have been filed by claimants who have not worked at all in the past 18 months making them ineligible for regular UI payments. Of the 65,000 claims that have not been paid to date and are valid to be paid, 20,000 of them have already been deemed ineligible after a review by the department and over 38,000 must still have their eligibility determined due to the claimant’s reason for employment separation or the receipt of other financial payments, including severance or retirement pay. 32,614 individuals are eligible to receive benefits, but have never requested a payment….“The claims that have gotten to this point require a hearing between claimant and employer to determine eligibility,” said Commissioner Butler. “We must maintain a fair and equitable process to ensure the integrity of the UI program.”