UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

Ohio unemployment benefits lawsuit update: when will the judge decide on their return?

Following the decision of Gov. Mike DeWine to prematurely withdraw from the additional pandemic jobless support, unemployed Ohioans launched a legal challenge.

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Ohio unemployment benefits lawsuit update: when will the judge decide on their return?
PATRICK T. FALLON AFP

The Ohio court system is yet to reach a verdict on the lawsuit lodged against the state for opting out of the federal pandemic unemployment benefits before they were due to end in early September.

On 6 July a Cuyahoga County lawsuit alleged that Gov. Mike DeWine and Matt Damschroder, interim head of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, had no right to deny Ohioans access to the federal programme.

The hearing was held in Franklin County last Friday and Common Pleas Judge Michael J. Holbrook announced that a decision was likely to come in the following week. CBS affiliate 10WBNS report that a verdict could arrive on Wednesday or Thursday.

Ohio one of 26 states to prematurely withdraw from programmes

In recent months more than half of all states have announced their intention to withdraw from the federal additional unemployment programmes because their governors feel that the extra support is creating an incentive to remain out of work.

Of the 26 states to opt out, 25 are Republican led and many of the Republican governors have faced legal challenges from unhappy residents. The programmes include the supplementary $300 per week jobless payments, as well as specific support for self-employed and gig workers.

In May Ohio Gov. Dewine announced that the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) would end in his state from 26 June, claiming that it was creating a labour shortage as businesses were trying to reopen.

DeWine defended the decision, saying: “When the program was put in place, it was a lifeline for many Americans at a time when the only weapon we had in fighting the virus was through social distancing, masking, and sanitization.”

He continued: “This is no longer the case as we now have an abundant supply of vaccines.”

Indiana and Maryland courts order state to resume additional unemployment benefits

Residents in a number of states have launched legal battles and have already been successful in two after courts in Indiana and Maryland ordered the state to continue paying the additional support until the federal 6 September deadline.

After judges ruled in the plaintiffs’ favour Indiana was ordered to resume the enhanced benefits on 16 July while Maryland, which had not yet reached the state’s own deadline, will be forced to continue the payments.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said that he has no intention of appealing the ruling, but maintained that the decision was “hurting our small businesses, jeopardizing our economic recovery, and will cause significant job loss.”

Lawsuits in Florida, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas are also still ongoing as residents look to have the FPUC restored.