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Charleston, W.Va. -- Kanawha Circuit Judge Maryclaire Akers has scheduled an Aug. 12 hearing for a lawsuit filed over the termination of pandemic-related unemployment benefits in West Virginia.
Republican Governor Jim Justice ended federal programs providing enhanced benefits to unemployed workers affected by COVID-19 on June 19. Under federal law, West Virginians are eligible for those benefits through Sept. 6.
Represented by Mountain State Justice, Rebecca Urie, of Charleston, and Kimberly Griffith, of South Charleston, filed lawsuits Tuesday in Kanawha County against Scott Adkins, Commissioner of Workforce West Virginia. The suits were combined into one case, a court official previously said.
Plaintiffs pointed to a section of state law that says the Workforce West Virginia commissioner must secure "all advantages available" for unemployed workers.
Bren Pomponio, a lawyer for Mountain State Justice, said Friday that a hearing on the case has been scheduled for Aug. 12 at 9:30 a.m. The hearing will be held in Akers' fourth-floor courtroom at the judicial annex in Charleston.
Gov. Justice has said employers were struggling to find workers.
Justice has not responded to requests for comment, including questions about whether he also spoke to unemployed workers.
Adkins also has not responded to a request for comment, including to questions about whether workers are returning to employment. The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy's analyst Sean O'Leary has said ending the benefit programs early has not resulted in a noticeable increase in employment rates, although it has increased economic hardship.
Read more about the lawsuit and background here.
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