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5 Missourians sue Gov. Mike Parson over ending federal pandemic unemployment

Posted at 6:32 PM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-30 19:32:45-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Five Missourians have sued Gov. Mike Parson, alleging that his premature termination of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Benefit programs violated a mandate to administer the program.

The unidentified plaintiffs requested a temporary restraining order that would require the state of Missouri to rescind its termination of participation in the programs.

RELATED: Missourians brace for the end of federal unemployment benefits

“They find themselves precariously close to losing their housing and cars, being unable to feed themselves and their children, unable to pay for medical care, and getting further behind on all bills,” the suit, filed earlier this month in Cole County Court, stated.

Parson announced in May that he was directing the state’s Department of Labor to end the benefits on June 12 – several weeks prior to the Sept. 6, 2021, expiration that Congress approved.

RELATED: Missouri leaders have mixed reactions to end of federal unemployment benefits

In addition to Parson, the suit names Anna Hui, director of the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, and Spencer Clark, acting director of the Missouri Division of Employment Security.

Two plaintiffs reside in Washington County, while the others are residents of St. Louis, Warren St. Clair and Washington counties.

As a teacher for a religious school, the plaintiff from St. Louis County didn’t qualify for regular state unemployment benefits, the suit alleged. She had been receiving $320 through pandemic unemployment assistance and $300 weekly from Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. She’s now facing foreclosure.

The Warren County resident has been a pet sitter and musician for a decade, which the suit stated “allowed her to rent a home for her disabled sister and herself, and provide the care her sister needs.” Having lost the $133 per week in PUA benefits and $300 in FPUC benefits with Parson’s order, her family now lives on the $800 per month Social Security Disability benefits her sister receives.

One Washington County resident is a mother of six who lost her job at a restaurant, which she held for 13 years, when the establishment closed in March 2020 and never reopened. She received $163 per week in PEUC benefits and $300 per week in FPUC benefits. Her current income is $790 per month in Supplemental Security Income and $634 per month for another child, the suit states.

The other plaintiff from Washington County received state unemployment benefits when the restaurant she worked at closed for six weeks at the beginning of the pandemic. Though she was able to return to work, she later had a high fever and got tested for COVID-19, quarantining until her results came back. She was fired, with the establishment “claiming that she had abandoned her job.”

She received $160 per week in PUA benefits and $300 per week in FPUC benefits, supplemented only with her husband’s $790 SSI check.