NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A Nashville attorney says they are working on litigation to take the state to court. This comes after the state decided to end federal unemployment benefits early.
Attorney Gary Blackburn, with The Blackburn Firm, says he’s heard the cries from people across the state and feels their arguments are justified.
“There are a number of people who are willing, perhaps even eager to be class representatives. So we’re going to determine which persons will serve in that role,” Blackburn said.
Blackburn plans to pursue a class action lawsuit against the state.
“The research we’ve done so far shows that these federal funds are paid to the state and under state law. They’re co-mingled with the same funds under which unemployment benefits are paid,” Blackburn said.
Governor Bill Lee made the announcement in May that he would end federal unemployment benefits in July.
Claims for US jobless benefits unexpectedly jumped last week offering the latest reminder that the American economy — and the labor market — are not yet back to normal.
News4’s Caresse Jackman asked the Governor about the decision shortly after. The governor stated that the “Crisis is Over” and that Tennesseans have over 250,000 jobs to choose from that are currently advertised on jobs4tn.gov.
“We need to make sure that we create an environment that moves people from unemployment to meaningful employment, and that decision will do just that,” Governor Lee said Thursday.
Blackburn argues that the funds from the United States go directly into the state and are mingled with other state funds that are used to pay those benefits.
Blackburn added that the state cannot just accept these funds and then simply refuse to apply them.
“Some of these people represent organizations that have hundreds of members...um, some of these people are in situations where it’s not unemployment benefits. There are also benefits paid for small business owners who are impacted by the pandemic. You have people who depend on this money--for school or for groceries for that matter medical expenses,” Blackburn said.
During a press conference Thursday, reporters asked Governor Lee about the pending litigation and if he will reconsider bringing back federal unemployment benefits and programs.
“I do not have any plans to make a change in that direction,” Governor Bill Lee said.
Blackburn says they’re seeking an injunction and they plan on getting the suit filed within the next few days.