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ODJFS can learn from businesses

Those in private business who spent much of the last nearly year-and-a-half scrambling to get the job done, despite the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic won’t have much sympathy for the folks at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, who used the pandemic as an excuse for not following the law.

A judge ruled against them in a lawsuit filed by William Hummel, 21, of Columbus, who appealed the ODJFS decision that he was not eligible for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. He filed his appeal April 5, after which the law states ODJFS had 21 days to decide on the appeal or transfer it to the unemployment compensation review commission. They did neither.

ODJFS said its assessment of Hummel’s appeal was stalled because of the volume of applications during the pandemic. And, it seems as though Hummel’s case may not have been unique.

“Throughout this pandemic, our attorneys have spoken with so many people that have found themselves in evictions, waiting to hear back on unemployment compensation benefits and pandemic unemployment assistance,” Karin Nordstrom, Hummel’s attorney, told another media outlet.

Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Chris Brown has ordered the state to follow its own law and address ALL appeals of unemployment benefit denials within 21 days. Those still waiting deserve better than to be left in limbo by the state while the rest of their lives remain in upheaval.

And, again, should those at ODJFS responsible for completing the task need tips on cutting through the bureaucratic nonsense to truly serve the people, surely there are any number of private employers who would be happy to show them how it’s done.

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