Georgia DOL sued by unemployed employees

The Georgia Department of Labor is facing a lawsuit from unemployed people who say their applications have not been processed.

The lawsuit has six co-defendants, all of whom are currently unemployed. They cite the agency’s failure to process claims and the lack of justification for the rejection as justification for the lawsuit against the department and Commissioner Mark Butler. The Georgia Legal Services Program (GLSP) is assisting the plaintiffs in this case, as is the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Atlanta Legal Aid Society.

The appeal sought, however, is an order from a Fulton County Supreme Court judge that GDOL must process workers’ claims “on a timely basis”. “Georgian law requires it [GDOL] Immediately determine eligibility, pay unemployment insurance claims and schedule hearings, ”the lawsuit states. The state wants to set a window of five to 30 days to respond to unemployment claims.

A defendant says she lost her home and the ability to bring a legal matter related to custody of her special needs son. Others say they waited months to find out if they were simply approved to receive benefits. The Associated Press reported this week that “Members of the House’s Democratic Caucus Subcommittee on COVID-19 have filed a federal complaint calling for an investigation into the unemployment process. They said the GDOL violated federal law that unemployment benefits must be paid within 21 days to those who qualify for it. ”

GDOL did not publicly comment on the pending case, but in August 2020 the agency released the following regarding unsatisfied claims:

“92% of all valid claims have received benefits in the last 19 weeks that a payment was requested, but many of the others are not eligible under state and federal law. Over 135,000 applications have been submitted by applicants who have not worked at all in the past 18 months, so they are not eligible for regular UI payments. Of the 65,000 applications that have not yet been paid and are valid, 20,000 have already been classified as ineligible after a review by the department, and over 38,000 have yet to be determined based on the applicant’s reason for the termination of employment or the applicant will be receiving other financial payments, including severance pay or retirement benefits. 32,614 people are entitled to benefits, but have never requested payment. “Claims received up to this point will require a hearing between the applicant and employer to determine eligibility,” said Commissioner Butler. “We must maintain a fair and equitable process to ensure the integrity of the UI program.”

Georgia DOL sued by unemployed employees

Jessica Szilagyi is a statewide contributor for She mainly focuses on state and local politics, as well as law enforcement issues. She has a political science background with a concentration in local government and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Jessica writes “Like It Or Not” for Fox5 in Atlanta and has two blogs of her own: The Perspicacious Conservative and “Hair Blowers to Lawn Mowers”.