Appeals court: Indiana must resume unemployment benefits

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the state temporarily continue payment of federal unemployment benefits, affirming an earlier court order that Indiana must restart the extra $300 weekly payments to unemployed workers.

Chief judge Cale Bradford denied a request from the state government to issue a stay on a Marion County judge’s order that Indiana must resume participation in the federal government’s programs that unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state government could next call on the Indiana Supreme Court to consider the preliminary injunction.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who has pushed to drop the state from the federal programs before they’re scheduled to end on Sept. 6, did not immediately comment Monday on the ruling.

Holcomb announced in May that Indiana would reinstate a requirement that those receiving unemployment benefits will again have to show they are actively searching for work as of June 1 and that the state would leave the federal programs effective June 19.

Indiana also ended its participation in a federal program that made gig workers and the self-employed eligible for assistance for the first time and another that provides extra weeks of aid.

Marion Superior Court Judge John Hanley granted the preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed June 14 by two legal organizations, which argues that Indiana law requires the state to procure federal insurance benefits to residents.

Hanley wrote in his court order that Indiana’s decision to leave the federal program early violates state law, adding that the unemployment benefits are “instrumental in allowing Hoosiers to regain financial stability at an individual level while the state continues to face challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic during its return to normalcy.”

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office asked the Indiana Court of Appeals to quickly stay the Marion County judge’s order.

Attorneys for the state maintain Indiana can’t continue paying out the benefits because the state has already ended its agreement with the federal government to administer the federal programs.

Entering into a new agreement would require the workforce development office to expend extra time and resources to “rework its information technology system,” according to court documents. The state also argued that Indiana would not have time to withdraw from the federal programs again should the appeals court rule in the state’s favor.

During the legal battle, Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development has not continued payment of federal unemployment benefits.

A spokesperson for the Department of Labor told The Associated Press that the federal government will accept states back into the programs after they’ve terminated the benefits, adding that benefits should be available to claimants for any weeks covered by the court orders.

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17 thoughts on “Appeals court: Indiana must resume unemployment benefits

  1. This mess that Indiana finds itself in begs the question: did Attorney General Todd Rokita counsel the governor that ending the federal unemployment benefits to Hoosiers posed no prospective legal considerations? We know Rokita prides himself in his position as the state’s chief legal advisor, and in his legal acumen. Exactly what has his role been in this fiasco, and what advice has he given?

    1. It’s not a fiasco. The state should keep fighting. These extra payments until September are absurd.

    1. If “*EVERY*” employer is looking for workers, then how is it high school & college students (who AREN’T receiving these payments) aren’t snatching up the jobs?

    2. 100% agree w/ you Lance.
      @Phillip – because they’re exactly that… STUDENTS. They can work the rest of their lives when they’re done being a STUDENT. Continuing to pay folks to stay at home is ABSURD.

    1. So a guy like me who worked thru the entire pandemic breaking my back building the new IU dorms should get short end of the stick?? I was laid off directly as a result of gas prices increasing and building materials raising in price. Forcing people into taking jobs that they don’t want is slavery. America is supposed to be free country. FREEDOM IS CHOICE

    2. 100% absurd considering the amount of BUSINESSES LOOKING for people. If you don’t like your job, find another one. Stop sitting around and complaining about government benefits.

    3. Nobody if forcing anybody to take a job they don’t want, Kevin. If you don’t like the type of job you are offered, stay home and starve. Just don’t expect unborn future taxpayers to feel sorry for you and send you money to stay at home while you look for that special job that suits your delicate sensitivities.

  2. Help wanted signs all over the state. What person who can use rational judgment believes that the additional $300 is necessary? Apparently several judges.

  3. Shop enough judges and you will always find some bleeding heart with no common sense.
    As prices continue to climb along with shortages, maybe these people will wake up to the fact that we need to stop paying citizens to sit at home while we allow cheap labor to stream across the border. Follow the money. Big business needs cheap labor and democrats need new voters.

    1. Bernie – Inform yourself before commenting. There’s no “judge shopping’ involved. Cale Bradford is the Chief Judge of the Indiana Court of Appeals. The rest of your comments are just as ill-informed and don’t merit a response.

  4. If you think unemployment is stopping everyone from taking your job offer, you might be a bad boss. Over 20 millions Americans have quit their jobs voluntarily this year – they’re not taking unemployment, they’re leaving your awful company for one that PAYS THEM.