Lawsuit Seeks To Reinstate Federal Unemployment Benefits In TN

Photo: Tennessee Governor Bill Lee

Photo Credit: Gov. Bill Lee / Facebook

Published July 27, 2021

By Jon Styf [The Center Square contributor] –

A lawsuit filed Friday in the Middle District of Tennessee is asking the court to intervene and allow Tennessee residents receiving unemployment benefits to again take part in the federal supplemental pandemic relief unemployment program.

Tennessee Capitol Building in Nashville

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a defendant in the case, ended the state’s participation in the federal unemployment program – which pays those on unemployment $300 additional weekly through Sept. 5 – on July 4. The other defendant is Jeff McCord, Commissioner of Tennessee’s Department of Labor & Workforce Development.

The lawsuit, filed by Nashville attorney Gary Blackburn on behalf of seven citizens and a potential class that includes all Tennesseans on unemployment, says that “Because of the termination of PUA, PEUC and FPUC benefits, Plaintiffs are facing extreme hardships, such as an inability to pay for basic living expenses such as housing, utilities, food, health care, and childcare.”

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Tennessee is one of 26 states whose governor elected to discontinue participation in the federal supplemental unemployment program. Many of those are states with Republican governors, though Louisiana is also joining that group on July 31 and has a Democratic governor.

When Lee was asked last week if he would consider reinstating the benefits, he said, “I do not have any plans to make a change in that direction.”

“There are half the states in this country that have suspended that and they have done so because they, like we, have 250,000 open jobs and 100,000 unemployed,” Lee said. “There are job opportunities for people in every county and every city in the state and we need to make sure that we create an environment that moves people from unemployment to meaningful employment. And that decision will do just that.”

Similar lawsuits have also been filed in Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas asking for relief on behalf of residents. Judges in Indiana and Maryland have ordered the state to re-start participation in the program pending the result of the cases.

“This program has served as a lifeline for thousands of Tennesseans who remain affected by the pandemic,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiffs have all been adversely affected by the termination of the programs, and therefore file this complaint for declaratory judgment and for injunctive relief.”

A report from the U.S. Senate Joint Economic Committee says Tennessee will miss out on $486 million going into its local economy due to dropping out of the program early. That calculation included $302 million in supplemental unemployment payments that won’t go to Tennessee residents.

The lawsuit does not name the Tennessee residents who the complaint was filed on behalf, but instead it uses their initials with details of each case.

The plaintiffs are from Shelby, Carter, Anderson, Williamson, Davidson and Knox counties.

According to the lawsuit, one lost her job after being diagnosed with COVID-19; another has a 12-year-old son diagnosed with cancer and cannot return to the workforce; a third applied for 200 jobs without any response; a fourth has received few responses from 200 resumes sent out after her company closed in December 2020.

Several complainants also referenced having child-care issues and having difficulty finding work that was possible along with child-care responsibilities.

“Plaintiffs are facing extreme hardships, such as an inability to pay for basic living expenses such as housing, utilities, food, health care, and childcare,” the lawsuit stated.

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About the Author:

Jon Styf is a freelance writer for Tennessee and South Carolina.

Follow Jon on Twitter @JonStyf.

17 thoughts on “Lawsuit Seeks To Reinstate Federal Unemployment Benefits In TN

  • July 27, 2021 at 3:40 pm
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    There are so many job opportunities in the job market right now I don’t see how they can (aside from wanting to continue their control) think about extending additional unemployment benefits!! If my 20 year old can go out and find a good job, so can everyone else. Get off your couches and go get a damn job!

    Reply
    • July 29, 2021 at 4:17 am
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      Amen sir!! That’s what we did when we were young. I am now fully disabled but I’ve paid my dues to include working in a sawmill.

      Reply
  • July 27, 2021 at 3:50 pm
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    There are more jobs available than people to fill them. How about getting a job? I, for one, am sick and tired of paying for every lazy ass person in this country.

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    • July 27, 2021 at 7:34 pm
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      Continuation of unemployment benefits when there are hundreds if not thousands of jobs open is ridiculous. The state of Tennessee does not want to be beholden to the federal government. Unless a person has a handicap and cannot work, there are jobs available.

      Reply
    • July 28, 2021 at 2:13 am
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      You haven’t! They ACTUALLY paid for it themselves through payroll deductions from each paycheck EARNED (many with MBAs that were not free and who just happen to be a little seasoned). You can’t change your age.

      That snippet sounded good though.

      Reply
  • July 27, 2021 at 4:45 pm
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    There is to many places begging for workers. The handouts have made people to lazy to work.

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  • July 27, 2021 at 7:37 pm
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    There are thousands upon thousands of jobs available for people that want to work. This lawsuit is ridiculous and people need to get off of their rear ends and get back to work. The state of Tennessee does not want to be beholden to the federal government.

    Reply
  • July 27, 2021 at 7:43 pm
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    This lawsuit is absolutely ridiculous! There are thousands of jobs available, and able-bodied people need to work. Stop being a slave to the welfare state. Besides the state of Tennessee does not want to be beholden to the federal government. One of the reasons I am proud to live in this state!

    Reply
  • July 27, 2021 at 7:56 pm
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    Jobs are in abundance. Work and do something to get paid; this has not hanged. Doing nothing and expecting to get paid is loafing and being a deadbeat, a real blemish on our society. Do something. Earn your kept!!

    Reply
  • July 28, 2021 at 12:50 am
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    Welcome to life, no one said it would be easy.

    Reply
  • July 28, 2021 at 2:15 am
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    You haven’t! They ACTUALLY paid for it themselves through payroll deductions from each paycheck EARNED (many with MBAs that were not free and who just happen to be a little seasoned). You can’t change your age.

    That snippet sounded good though.

    Reply
  • July 28, 2021 at 11:20 am
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    It takes time to find employment and there are many other issues people are facing during this pandemic. If the government gave these states money to be used to help, why should it be left up to Bill Lee to make the determination that he is not going to allow it for Tennessee. That is to much power for one individual. I am truly pleased that lawyers are suing on behalf of the people. Again, every situation is different and allowing a few more weeks gives people time to find employment. States should not be allowed to utilize this money for anything else, but what it was set aside for.

    Reply
  • July 28, 2021 at 1:06 pm
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    I know a person who is in jail. He and his girlfriend were heavily into the drugs. His girlfriend filed for his unemployment and is drawing it while he is in jail and knows nothing about this. She did his “looking for a job” every week. She also filed for “business loans” although she does not have a business. She is a drug user and this is what her money goes for. She has three children by three different men and they have been taken away from her. She is married to one of the childrens father, but has multiple boyfriends. Just say not to reinstatement of unemployment because so many jobs are available now and they could be working.

    Reply
  • July 28, 2021 at 1:26 pm
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    I read an article the other day (about a poll that was taken about UE), stating that behind child care, and taking care of a parent, the number 3 reason for able bodied adults are turning down gainful employment is that the federal bonus money and UE benefits in their state are MORE than what the job was paying on a weekly basis. Until the employers were will to pay more than what the current situation paid, they would stay home.

    The repeated UE extension and bonus money, the dems have forced created this mess. The fearmongering, anxiety inducing “sky is falling”, rhetoric that gave different “safety” requirements ever 24 hours, sometimes less than that, has lead to massive amounts of confusion about a virus that initially was thought to be much worse than it truly was for the vast majority of people under the age of 60. I bet if they polled those same people about their political leanings, you would find that many lean to the blue and to the left.

    There is no reason to keep American employers hostage for higher wages that they can not pay simply because the UE benefits exceed what is necessary or logical. America needs to get moving again, to grow its economy, and this means going back to work folks. Some of us haven’t had the luxury of taking time off in over a year and a half. We need a break too.

    Reply
  • July 28, 2021 at 5:50 pm
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    Bravo Governor Lee! I live in Green County and all industries are desperate for a workers. To reinstate unemployment would further hamper industry’s ability to obtain the employees they need. We personally know of many able bodied people who have become dependent upon taxpayer dollars to support them!

    Reply
  • July 29, 2021 at 4:17 am
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    Amen sir!! That’s what we did when we were young. I am now fully disabled but I’ve paid my dues to include working in a sawmill.

    Reply
  • July 30, 2021 at 8:43 pm
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    These people don’t need unemployment. They NEED TO GO TO WORK OR LET THEM STARVE!!!!! people today are to lazy!!!

    Reply

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