SUPREME COURT GRANTS HEARING ON UNEMPLOYMENT LAW PROJECT’S MANDAMUS PETITION

July 30, 2020

Olympia, WA

The Supreme Court doesn’t hear every case, but today the Washington State Supreme Court agreed to hear the Unemployment Law Project’s mandamus petition.  In the word’s of the Supreme Court:

Petitioners Unemployment Law Project and unemployed workers McKeezi Barraza and Marianne White, ask this court to issue a writ of mandamus directing respondent Suzan LeVine, Commissioner for the Washington State Employment Security Department, to take numerous actions, including immediate payment of unemployment benefits. For reasons explained below, this original action is retained in this court for a decision on the merits.

This matter arises from the rapid and staggering increase in unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the department, more than 2.2 million initial applications for unemployment benefits were filed since March 8, 2020. The sudden tidal wave of unemployment claims triggered by this public health crisis, accompanied by a massive and initially successful scheme by foreign actors to fraudulently obtain benefits, overwhelmed Washington’s unemployment benefits system, resulting in delays in processing claims and issuing payment of benefits to a significant number of unemployed workers. The numerous declarations of unemployed individuals submitted in this matter relate heartbreaking stories of frustration, despair, and stress arising from these delays.

The Court held: “Accordingly, this original action will be retained in this court for a decision on whether petitioners have made a sufficient showing that a writ of mandamus should issue against respondent.”

The Court also sent a letter outlining the briefing schedule.  These dates may change if the Court grants the petitioners’ pending motion to accelerate. 

Click here to see Supreme Court order Granting review

Click here to see Supreme Court letter setting dates

UNEMPLOYMENT LAW PROJECT SEEKS ACCELERATED REVIEW OF MANDAMUS PETITION ASKING HIGH COURT TO ORDER EMPLOYMENT SECURITY DEPARTMENT TO PAY UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS WHICH HAVE BEEN WITHHELD FOR MONTHS IN SOME CASES; See Amicus Brief and Witness Statements Outlining Ongoing Damages Supporting Acceleration

June 23, 2020

Olympia, WA

Today the Sheridan Law Firm filed a motion seeking accelerated review and immediate relief arguing that the Supreme Court should promptly enforce Employment Security Department (ESD) Commissioner Suzan LeVine’s duty to ensure that unemployment compensation payments are made when due and to protect due process. ESD’s failure to make timely payments irreparably harms many unemployed workers statewide. Many unemployed workers are getting nothing back for their efforts at a time when they desperately need assistance. This is unacceptable and cannot persist. This Court is the appropriate forum to restore public trust and ensure that the unduly delayed payments are promptly processed.
The Court’s review of this matter cannot wait. Many claimants cannot meet their immediate, most basic needs and Commissioner LeVine has a clearly established duty to act in accordance with the law. Thus, the mandamus relief petitioners seek is warranted.

Click here to see ULP Motion for Accelerated Review and Immediate Relief

Click here to see WA State Psychological Association amicus motion

Click here to see Wash State Psychological Association amicus memo

Click here to see Court’s briefing schedule on motion to accelerate

Click here to see reply brief in motion to accelerate review

Click here to see Tirpak Reply Dec.

Click here to see Supp. Harrington Dec.

Click here to see KIRO 7 story

Click here to see 6/26 Seattle Times Story

Click here to see NY Times Story

Click here to see 7/2/20 KIRO 7 story

Click here for SLF Attorney Andra Kranzler radio interview

The motion to accelerate is supported by many sworn witness statements outlining the desperate status of Washington Citizens who have been improperly be denied benefits without a hearing.

062320 ULP – Supplemental Dec. of Tirpak FILED

062320 ULP – Amy Swanner Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – Billie Abbit Affidavit_Declaration Filed

062320 ULP – Chelsea Altona Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – Chrstine Mair Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – Chynna Glenn Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – David Svoboda Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – Fabian Paracuelles Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – Flavia Feliciano Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – Jeremy Bradford Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – Jordan Jolma Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – Kelli C. Ebert Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – Marissa Riegert Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – Michael DeMaddalena Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – Miroslava Radovich Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – Motion for Accelerated Review and Immediate Relief FILED

062320 ULP – Nadya Robinson Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – Nicholas Petrish Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – Randall Peters Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – Shanyece Wake Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – Supplemental Dec. of Barraza FILED  

062320 ULP – Supplemental Dec. of White FILED

062320 ULP – Thomas Harrington Declaration FILED

062320 ULP – WIllam F. Burris Declaration FILED

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS Unemployment Law Project Sues Washington State Seeking Order Demanding That Employment Security Department Comply With The Law And Pay Eligible Workers Without Delay; SLF Representing Plaintiffs Pro Bono

June 5, 2020

Olympia, WA

Today the Unemployment Law Project, McKeezi Taylor Barraza, and Marianne White filed a lawsuit in the Washington State Supreme Court seeking an order directing the Employment Security Department (“ESD”) Commissioner Suzan “Suzi” LeVine to comply with her duty to process and provide prompt payment of benefits to Washington’s unemployed. The lawsuit alleges that the “Commissioner has forestalled and, in some cases, outright halted unemployment benefits to legitimate, qualified claimants to verify identities. The lawsuit asks the Court to Order the Commissioner:

  • To report to the Court all steps that have been taken and will be taken to ensure due process is protected and prompt payment of unemployment benefits is made;
  • To take all actions necessary to process and ensure prompt payment of unemployment benefits;
  • To provide claimants the required due process and refrain from cutting off benefits to claimants without providing notice and opportunity for hearing pre-termination of benefits.

The lawsuit also asks the Court to ensure timeliness of payments and appeals of denials, to make regular public reports, and provide legal assistance to applicants among other things.  The lawsuit does not seek money damages.

The lawsuit stems from the State’s slowing and halting unemployment benefit payments to honest, eligible citizens in response to fraudulent filings coming from oversees.  The lawsuit states that the “Court’s consideration is urgently needed because withholding unemployment benefits cuts off the only source of income and, thereby, sustenance for many across our state.”  The Sheridan Law Firm is representing the plaintiffs pro bono. 

Click here to see Petition

Click here to see Tirpak Dec

Click here to see Barraza Dec

Click here to see Hill Decl

Click here to see White Decl

Click here to see the NPR story on the filing

Click here to see the Seattle Times story of the filing

Click here to see NW News Network story

Click here to see KIRO news story

Click here to see King 5 news story

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