Freeing more than a billion dollars of unemployment payments
When the pandemic caused mass layoffs in 2020, hundreds of thousands of Virginians found themselves out of work and struggling to make ends meet. They applied for unemployment insurance but instead of receiving the emergency help they needed, they faced long waits, benefits cut off without notice, busy phone lines, and malfunctioning websites. In 2021 we sued the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) on behalf of five brave plaintiffs, along with the Virginia Poverty Law Center, Legal Aid Works, and pro bono partners Consumer Litigation Associates and Kelly Guzzo, PLC. One significant goal of that effort was to end the practice by the VEC of stopping payments suddenly when they identified a possible issue with a person’s claim.
To date, more than one billion dollars in emergency aid that previously would have been held up for months (or longer) has made it into the hands of nearly 180,000 Virginians. This is just one of the system improvements we have helped move forward at the VEC through our litigation, administrative advocacy, media pressure, and work with legislators across the state.