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Judge Signs Settlement In Unemployment Delays Lawsuit

Jahd Khalil

A judge signed off on a settlement agreement in the class action lawsuit involving the Virginia Employment Commission Tuesday evening. The agreement will affect tens of thousands of Virginians and their families. There are over 92,000 claims awaiting adjudication.

The agreement went into effect immediately upon signing.

“We know that the VEC has a lot of hardworking career employees who are facing a very steep pathway in terms of trying to get those benefits out to folks,” said Pat Levy-Lavelle with the Legal Aid Justice Center, one of the attorneys who negotiated the settlement.

“We're excited about this order because we think that it brings additional capacity to the agency, and in doing so also relief to the people it serves and the people that we've been hearing from who have been waiting a long time without information and benefits.”

The settlement sets benchmarks to make sure the VEC is able to clear 95 percent of the backlog. They’ll have to process 10,000 claims a week by July 1st and double that by August.

Governor Ralph Northam had already instructed the VEC to find state workers that could temporarily help adjudicate cases or investigate fraud.

The settlement also specifically mentions certain categories of claimants that might be able to get relief earlier, many by June 15th. The settlement also makes the VEC improve its technology to communicate with applicants. Northam’s order also directed the VEC to upgrade its outdated technology.

“There's more work to be done, but it's definitely a step forward,” Levy-Lavelle said. “Today's a day to recognize the progress that's being made.”

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

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