Recently, a group of laid-off workers, who were frustrated with delays processing unemployment benefit claims, filed a lawsuit against the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD). In the litigation, there could be 100,000 or more people with potential claims for wrongfully delaying, denying, or freezing unemployment benefits. The lawsuit asked the court to order the ESD to do its job and process unemployment benefits claims promptly.
The lawsuit could potentially be treated as a class action. Class action lawsuits require the following:
- One or more parties of a massive group sues or gets sued as representatives of the entire group (also called class, as in class action). Mesothelioma class action lawsuits are an example. Several claimants sued asbestos manufacturers for making a dangerous product that harmed many people and caused them to develop mesothelioma, an aggressive and deadly type of cancer. Every person who was harmed and developed mesothelioma was a member of the class. Therear over 100,000 potential plaintiffs in the ESD lawsuit
- The results benefit the entire group (class). The mesothelioma lawsuits asked the courts to order the defendants to pay compensation to many people who contracted mesothelioma.
- You have the right to opt-out of a class-action lawsuit and file your own lawsuit. People who developed mesothelioma could file their lawsuits against the asbestos makers instead of participating in the class action litigation.
- The class must have so many members that it would be impractical to name all of the parties to the lawsuit. If everyone who got mesothelioma or their survivors got named as parties to the class action cases, they might have to get their depositions taken, answer interrogatories, and participate in hearings. The parties to the lawsuit would have to receive official notice of hearings and other matters. The lawsuits would be logistical nightmares.
- The lawsuit involves many of the same issues of law or fact for all of the claimants. For example, the mesothelioma class action lawsuits alleged that the asbestos makers made or distributed a product that harmed people exposed to asbestosis by causing them to develop mesothelioma.
- The outcome of a class-action lawsuit should provide relief to the members of the class, not just the representative parties.
In the ESD lawsuit, there is a massive group of people in the same situation who need similar relief and whose claims arose out of similar facts. If each person whose unemployment check got held up due to fraud concerns filed a separate lawsuit, the courts would get overwhelmed, but if most of the claims can be handled in one case, it is efficient for everyone involved. The outcome of the lawsuit would benefit everyone whose unemployment checks are in limbo and/or awaiting identity verification by the ESD. Also, the outcome could benefit thousands of Washington workers who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, you have the right to opt out and sue on your own as well.
If your unemployment benefits are in limbo, Sapphire Legal can help you and will advocate on your behalf. Contact us today.
A Washington employment attorney could help you pursue your legal remedies if your unemployment benefits had unreasonable delays or got wrongfully denied or terminated.