Suit Against AL Governor & Secretary for Discontinuing Federal Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Barred
In Hawkins v. Ivey, the Supreme Court of Alabama addressed whether § 36-13-8 and § 25-4-118(a) of the Alabama Code legally require Governor Kay Ivey and Secretary Fitzgerald Washington to continue Alabama’s participation in federal pandemic unemployment compensation programs. In light of the fact that COVID-19 prevented many workers from earning a paycheck, Congress authorized additional unemployment benefits to provide relief. As businesses began to reopen, several states announced their intent to terminate agreements to disburse federal unemployment benefits. On May 10, 2021, Governor Ivey announced that Alabama would no longer disburse federal unemployment benefits in the hope that reducing unemployment benefits would combat the labor shortage and facilitate economic recovery in Alabama.
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The court ultimately concluded that the permissive language in the statute does not place a legal obligation on the Governor to participate in federal pandemic unemployment compensation programs.