DES MOINES, Iowa — A lawsuit brought on behalf of two Iowans seeking a class action decision, claims Governor Kim Reynolds broke the law when she refused to pay pandemic-related unemployment coverage to tens of thousands of Iowans.
Lawyers representing Karla Smith and Holly Bladel claim they are two of those thousands who lost their benefits in 2021. The funding was authorized by Congress in 2020 during the early days of the Pandemic. The CARES Act was aimed at preventing an economic depression as unemployment was skyrocketing.
Recipients of unemployment were told they would be covered through September 4, 2021. But later, Iowa Workforce Development changed that date to June 12, with just one month's notice. IWD Director Beth Townsend is also listed in the suit.
Holly Bladel claims she was living off those funds after she lost her job trying to care for an elderly relative that was immunocompromised, putting them at greater risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.
Karla Smith claims in the federal court documents that she left her job to quarantine and that the elimination of the funds just as the Delta variant was surging put her at unnecessary risk.
The documents lay out several federal provisions they believe make the state's decision unlawful. If the courts rule the suit can proceed as a class action, and a judge rules in their favor, it could open the door to thousands of Iowans getting three months worth of funds they would have received had the program not been halted early.
Iowa's News Now did reach out to the Governor's office for a statement and has not yet heard back.
Read the complete filing below: