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.”