Lawsuit challenges Holcomb’s decision to end extended jobless benefits

A lawsuit filed on behalf of five Indiana residents and Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis challenges Gov. Eric Holcomb’s decision to end extended unemployment benefits provided through the federal CARES Act.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Marion Superior Court, alleges the plaintiffs have been financially damaged by the elimination of the benefit, which provided recipients an additional $300 a week in unemployment.

It also accuses the state of violating its legal obligation to secure all rights and benefits available to Hoosiers under federal unemployment laws.

“These benefits have provided life-sustaining and crucial assistance to many Hoosiers during the pandemic,” Jon Laramore, executive director of Indiana Legal Services, said in statement. “The legislature passed a law creating a right to these benefits, and we’re asking Governor Holcomb to follow the law.”

Indiana Legal Services and the Indianapolis law firm of Macey Swanson Hicks & Sauer are representing the plaintiffs. In the lawsuit, the five individual plaintiffs are identified only by their initials and include two Indianapolis residents as well as people from Plainfield, Goshen and Bloomingdale.

The lawsuit says Concerned Clergy provided financial assistance throughout the pandemic to Indianapolis residents in need of help to pay for housing and healthcare and that the need for assistance will only increase with Holcomb’s decision to end the additional unemployment benefits.

Last month, Holcomb joined many other Republican governors in ending the extended employment benefits after employers complained they were having trouble finding workers and feared many people weren’t returning to the workforce because they could earn as much or more on unemployment.

In response to the lawsuit, Holcomb’s office said Tuesday that the state properly completed all required steps to end its participation in federally funded pandemic unemployment insurance programs and provided timely notification to affected benefit recipients.

At the time he announced his decision to end the extended benefits, Holcomb said: “Eliminating these pandemic programs will not be a silver bullet for employers to find employees, but we currently have about 116,000 available jobs in the state that need filled now.”

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27 thoughts on “Lawsuit challenges Holcomb’s decision to end extended jobless benefits

  1. Get off their ass and get back to work and they won’t have to worry about that extra $300 a week. I saw a furniture manufacturer in Mississippi is willing to pay $25 an hour.

    1. Dear Rhea,
      I wanted to share some true information to back up your comment. I am a 64 year old IU graduate who has worked since I was 14 years old. My profession/ career was closed on March 13th when Covid hit. I have sent out over 200 resumes and even more job applications in numerous other fields. I am continuously told I am over qualified as they hire workers in their 20 and 30’s. So to correct your assumption, I Am Not Sitting on my Ass have not my entire life and this is true for 1000’s of other fellow Hoosiers. I only hope you are never put in a situation like Covid and have to choose between buying food or medicine through no fault of your own.

    2. Completely agree with you, Rhea. I don’t believe people can’t find a job. It’s just so much easier to sit on your butt and collect unemployment.

  2. I hope the suit is successful.

    And best of luck to each of you and yours if you ever find yourself unemployed, regardless of the cause. (Cue your “up by your bootstrap stories.)

    1. Give us a break, D M; what an ignorant remark.

      Enjoy your inflation because goods and services will remain tighter until the labor force gets back to work and starts making things besides empty bags of Cheetos in front of their TVs while waiting for their latest “stimulus” check.

      Nothing is so satisfying as doing work and feeling you’ve accomplished something in the course of a day. Hopefully, you’ll learn that some day.

      Meanwhile, the effects of the pandemic are behind us as regards employment. Indiana unemployment is below 4% and businesses are begging for workers. Go drive around and look at the signs.

    2. So for how long should the benefits go on? Until every single citizen says they don’t need anymore money? Sounds like you should probably move to a socialist country.

    3. After the prolonged period of artificially low inflation we’ve had, the current inflation is very welcome. As you can see daily in the headlines, we finally have some upward pressure on wages. Hopefully, those who were petrified by the late 70s have aged out of power at The Fed and this will last for a while. You know, a rising tide lifts all boats; that tide hasn’t affected the lower income brackets in far too long.

      And I’m sorry to disabuse you of your ignorance about me, but I have a very good job for which I am well compensated. I’m very familiar with accomplishment, thank you.

      Lastly, the hangover from the pandemic are not over. Look at all of the signs.

  3. Look around, anywhere in Indianapolis, as a matter of fact anywhere in Indiana. “HELP WANTED” “NOW HIRING SIGNS” are everywhere. We all need to get back to work, Inflation is starting to rear its ugly head and that effects us all. It stems from Supply at an historic low, and demand , increased by government stimulus checks, starting to hit an all time high. The extra benefits may have been required when most businesses were forced to shut down and jobs were no where to be found. That has changed, I can’t believe that it took as long as it did for the Governor to take action, but i am glad that he finally stepped up and made a controversial decision…. It’s the right decision.

    1. It shouldn’t even be “controversial”. Opportunity is everywhere! Have you been to a restaurant lately? Tables are open and operating hours are shortened because there is no help! signs for hep are on the doors of nearly every business, large and small. Get back to work America! Did you take handouts so long that you forgot how admirable and noble it is to be a productive and contributing member of our society?

      You can choose to continue not to work, but you can’t choose to continue not to work and be supported by hard working Americans any longer!

  4. The above comments about lazy people not finding jobs is a reminder of just inhumane and cruel our society has become.
    I did NOT like having to be on assistance last year. If it weren’t for the additional bump in assistance, and some serious financial engineering over the years, my family would most likely have had zero in the tank when my current position came about. I would like to see all the elephant governors be sued for withdrawing from a Federal program and encouraging unsafe practices of employment (yes we did that here too — limiting business liability on COVID safety for employees).

    I applied to over 800 jobs. About half of those were out of state or 100% travel. I had well over 100 interviews — not including those where I was ghosted while sitting on the company’s conference line. I had been told by more than one employer that I was simply the wrong race or gender. (yes illegal but I don’t have the resources to fight those organizations) I had my resume professionally rewritten — took on several more certificates in my area (whilst renewing my existing credentials) — and still worried about every singly application I turned in.

    I think I was relatively fortunate dealing with IN-DWD as my filings were handled fairly unencumbered. I know several others who waited months to get compensated, only to have the “bank” hold the funds for yet another 14 days. That same bank would regularly take over a week to process payments to utilities (like electricity, water, and gas — during the winter). Others I know just gave up working with IN-DWD and simply bankrupted themselves or moved in with others. Unless you’ve dealt with the overworked people at DWD, you can’t begin to imagine what they hear and how over worked they are (on systems that are older than dirt).

    You think they’re getting a boatload of money to do nothing? You might want to check again — at max, our state pays out $395, and will withhold federal income tax from each weeks claim. That leaves about $350 to pay for the week — rent, food, healthcare, utilities, child care, gas and car insurance….it does NOT go that far. (for the mathematically challenged, that works out to $1400 per month —post tax…and where I”m at, that’s about 25% my houses needs just to hit zero net difference)

    I have 4 different friends who own businesses — all say exactly what you are saying “just apply — I have work” — then you see what they’re willing to pay. $2.15+tips for the food services (which were mostly closed in the last year…) $9/hr for retail. And the most I’ve seen from these small businesses –$15/hr… That’s from a very generous person who wanted REAL staff who care about the work they do. (None of the jobs I’ve seen would support a family — and definitely wouldn’t cover the college loan expenses you all claim people need to have)

    Like everything — there are a few who will game the system and take the free money. But zero of the people I met were doing that. We all were working extremely hard to get back to work –and appreciated the additional help. The economic bigotry you’re supporting just goes right in line with the societal hatred and dehumanization that the elephants and animal networks are spewing.

    Give yourself this experiment — try living the next 3 months on less than $1400 (put any difference into the bank…if you make that much more…). No “emergency” pull out. No exceptions..$1400 to cover 100% of your living expenses for your whole house. You MIGHT be shocked to learn it’s hard.

    1. Chris, I’m sorry you find yourself in such a difficult place, especially since it seems you’ve tried hard to find a job that pays what you need. And maybe you’ve made a lot of good decisions but have just had some bad luck. But you are right, for people like me who early in his marriage lived most off of rice and turkey burger because it was the cheapest food my wife and I could find, and who were careful buy a low cost car and pretty much low cost everything or hand me downs to get by, until over time we saved money and could afford a house we were confident we could make the payments on, and were careful not to have kids until we again were confident we could afford it, etc., etc. it is hard to understand why people who live frugally if needed, and work hard, can’t make it assuming they haven’t made bad decisions or have had very bad luck such as health crises, etc. My wife and I have on several occasions had people we were only acquainted with live in our house with us for months in each case, and in each case we saw how poor financial decisions kept them in in financial crisis. One family we were helping never cooked for themselves but despite having limited funds were always buying pizzas and other expensive food. They were a relative success story in that they at least learned some simple cooking that provided decent meals at much lower cost. We took in a troubled teenager, helped her get her driver’s license among other things including giving her quite a bit of money to buy her first car so that she didn’t need to dip into the medicaid money she was receiving, only to have her later blow that money we helped her save on marijuana. Some time after she left us she got pregnant, and I strongly suspect it was on purpose so that she could receive child support payments since that was what was modeled for her by her mother and sisters. Another woman we had in our home for months was in trouble in part because she took $100K of money that was partly savings and partly family money she received and put it into a high risk business venture that left her with nothing when it failed. A family member of mine who I especially wanted to help because I knew he had mental illness issues stayed with us for 9 months and in that time ultimately refused to get medical help for his issues AND didn’t apply for a single job. He always had excuses. Once we asked him to leave (with $2,500 I gave him to help transition) he magically managed to find a job. So, while we should be compassionate with those who lack good skills, decision-making, etc. it is not “cruel” to believe that everyone else should have to pay for the bad decision-making of others, though I do believe in trying to help people make better decisions and giving them a hand up in the meantime if they are serious about it. Again, I obviously don’t know you and maybe you did most things right (none of us do everything right) and you had bad luck, but there are plenty of people who make decisions that land them in bad circumstances and then repeatedly want others to bail them out. My wife and I won’t stop trying to help people, but neither will we feel bad for those who just want a hand-out.

  5. Not everyone affected by the pandemic is able to take a job requiring heavy lifting or stand for long periods to do a factory job. Some are educated and capable of well paying jobs if they could get back to work. Some of these ‘deadbeats’ have taken this time to take training to qualify for higher paying jobs than fast food. Not everyone is ‘living the life of Riley’ just because they aren’t able to get back to a job they qualify for or may not be physically able to take.
    If everyone is so upset about those getting the temporary extra money for being impacted by the pandemic, why not get up in arms about all the able bodied people on Welfare. That’s far more income that getting temporary help with unemployment. The ‘extra money’ was scheduled to expire Sept. 19th. It was never intended to be an indefinite ‘give away’. There are still many who struggle to put food on the table or keep their basic utilities paid. That extra $300 helped significantly.
    Holcomb hasn’t looked at the whole picture because he was too busy listening to some of these businessmen crying they can’t get people to work for low wages or undesireable working conditions. There are always 2 sides to every story. Try being kind instead of critical of things you may not understand.

    1. Ugh, it’s always excuses for why “your” particular situation is different in order to justify living off of others?! Perhaps you should feel a bit guilty for “taking this time to get training” on the back of taxpayers. There are a lot of people who have worked multiple jobs while improving their education to lift their economic status…why do you feel you should be able to do that on the public dole, on the burden of others? You said, “why not get up in arms about all the able bodied people on Welfare.”? I’m certain that those of us on this side of the issue are indeed “up in arms” about that as well…however, moral equivalency is wrong and finding someone who does something “worse” than you, doesn’t make your actions OK.

      What you also don’t seem to understand, based on your comments, is that businesses have two choices – lower, affordable wages and lower cost of service/product or higher wages and higher cost of service/product. They can’t survive paying people more AND keeping their costs low…so it’s all relative – you get a higher wage, but then your money becomes less valuable because you are paying more for everything. It’s not rocket science – businesses will react in order to stay afloat – and if you want to force unsustainable wages on your employer then you’re just going to pay with astronomical inflation.

  6. Its clearly obvious that nobody above is working for an entry level hourly wage. Real wages for low income earners have barely budged in the last 40 years. I started out bagging groceries for a food chain in Chicago during high school. It was unionized back then. I eventually moved to stock and night crew the summer before college. I was making nearly $12/hr with time and a half on Sundays and double time on holidays. That was 1980! Today my HS kids can’t get a job that pays anywhere near that well. Ive done OK in my career and have no problem paying another $.50 for my Chipotle meal (or whatever) to help young people get started or more importantly a single mother feed and insure her kids. Its obvious that so many feel threatened and insecure by any betterment of or benefit to others. Grow a heart. (and while you are at it get some self confidence therapy)

    1. That’s baloney and you know it. I have 3 high school and college boys, all who are making way more than your $12/hr…with multiple options for doing so…

      I’ll grow a heart if you grow some integrity….deal? 🙂

  7. I see the Democrats finally logged on to argue that the sky is not blue. IBJ, is your resident Lib, Sheila Kennedy going to be an “expert” witness if the suit goes to trial?

  8. The first dozen comments were pretty disheartening. They were all spoken like people that have never been out of a day of work in their lives and already have $25/hour jobs.

    Thanks to all of the other people that chimed in with a little empathy and even personal experience. I hope the lawsuit succeeds. Indiana citizens should be mad that the governor is leaving their Federal tax dollars on the table not bringing them home.

    I suspect that since Indiana’s unemployment rate is below 4%, we are at what is considered “full” employment, and even hitting people while they are down will not make a significant dent in the job market.

    1. One comment on the 4% unemployment rate. Once you file a claim for unemployment, it is only valid for 1 year. For those who haven’t found work, they fall off the grid and no longer counted in these statistics. Fewer people may be filing for unemployment as things open back up. Due to a potential decrease in new claims and those who no longer are ‘in the system’, your unemployment rate will appear much lower than it actually is. If you watch the news, they said fewer jobs were filled than many of the economists had predicted. Many of these ‘job opportunities’ seem abundant in the food industry, hospitality or factory. If you are qualified for a much better position, they don’t always want to hire you because you’re ‘over qualified’ and they fear you will leave first chance you get. Having taken statistics in college, I learned numbers can be manipulated to say whatever you want them to. Not everyone is looking for a hand-out. Some just need a ‘hand-up’ to get back in the game of life.

  9. donna w. i don’t think anyone is against a hand up, but after so long it is nothing butt a hand out. Employers everywhere are desperate for people. You say, “job opportunities’ seem abundant in the food industry, hospitality or factory. If you are qualified for a much better position, they don’t always want to hire you because you’re ‘over qualified’ and they fear you will leave first chance you get.” is an old argument from another economic era. No one is doing that in this climate. Do you think that restaurant owners are sitting with half of their tables open and shortening their operating hours because they don’t want to hire “over-qualified” people who are clamoring at their doors to be hired? I think not.

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