NCLEJ Lawsuit Exposes Louisiana’s Broken Unemployment System

NCLEJ partnered with attorneys Wendy Manard and Ellyn Clevenger to address major violations in Louisiana’s unemployment insurance benefits system that are costing Louisianans their unemployment checks.

“Louisiana’s unemployment system is so confusing that people are losing benefits – meaning their livelihoods – because of technical issues,” said Saima Akhtar, senior attorney at the National Center for Law and Economic Justice. “It took two lawyers on my team to dissect a notice given to one plaintiff which contained two completely opposing updates about eligibility.”

The lawsuit addresses egregious and unlawful procedures by the Louisiana Workforce Commission such as inadequate notice to benefits termination and six-month long delays in notifications to beneficiaries about overpayments. Some plaintiffs report they did not receive legally required notice regarding a right to appeal a termination of benefits. Others experienced immediate termination of benefits during the appeal process.

On May 5, NCLEJ, Manard, and Clevenger filed an amended complaint in the case. On May 21, the case moved forward and its core claims that the Louisiana’s unemployment insurance benefits system is rife with structural problems survived a motion to dismiss.

“Our case reveals the technical problems of Louisiana’s unemployment system but that’s not the only threat to benefits for Black, Latinx, women, and low-paid Louisianan workers,” said Jarron McAllister, NCLEJ’s Penn Law Fellow. “As our case progresses, the Louisiana legislature is furthering bills like SB 225 that would decimate unemployment by cutting it down from 26 to 12 weeks. This is unacceptable.”

This class action suit continues NCLEJ’s work to expand access to unemployment benefits across the United States.

NCLEJ advances economic justice for low-income families, individuals, and communities across the country.

Wendy Manard and Ellyn Clevenger have years of litigation experience in Louisiana.