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UNEMPLOYED TENNESSEE RESIDENTS SUE STATE, GOVERNOR TO REINSTATE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

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Seven Tennessee residents have filed a lawsuit against Governor Bill Lee for stopping federal unemployment benefits earlier this year.

Lee pulled out of the benefits program at the start of July, more than two months before it was set to expire. Tennessee was one of several states to make the decision, citing it as an impediment to economic growth following a sluggish year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Weeks later, some families say they are struggling without the benefits, the Tennessean reported. The families claim in the suit that they have applied to hundreds of jobs, most without receiving any response.

The lawsuit, filed in Middle Tennessee District Court, asks the court to instruct Lee to immediately reverse his earlier decision and reenter the program. Tennessee returned to state-funded benefits, which dispenses around $275 per week, and the federal program would have added an additional $300 per week.

Several states that pulled out of the benefits program have faced lawsuits already, with residents in Indiana and Maryland having won their cases. Cases in Ohio, Oklahoma, Florida and Texas are pending.

The Tennessee benefits saw residents receiving just under $300 a week payments.

“We will no longer participate in federal pandemic unemployment programs because Tennesseans have access to more than 250,000 jobs in our state,” Lee said in a statement. “Families, businesses and our economy thrive when we focus on meaningful employment and move on from short-term, federal fixes.”

A spokesperson for Lee’s administration said the governor is “focused on helping Tennesseans find meaningful employment and moving away from short-term, federal fixes. There are no plans for that to change.”


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