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Judge orders Oklahoma to resume extra jobless payments

August 7, 2021 GMT

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma judge has ordered the state to reinstate a pandemic-related supplemental federal unemployment assistance program that was cut off to thousands of workers in June.

In a letter to attorneys in the case late Friday, Oklahoma County District Judge Anthony Bonner granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting Oklahoma from withdrawing from the program until he issues a final order in the case, or until the program expires in September.

“Oklahoma shall notify the U.S. Department of Labor immediately to reinstate and administer the federal unemployment benefit programs,” Bonner wrote.

Attorney Brendan McHugh said his clients are pleased and awaiting a detailed order, which Bonner said would come Monday.

“It’s always a good day when a judge or the court system tells an elected official they exceeded their power or have gone too far,” McHugh told The Associated Press.

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Gov. Kevin Stitt in May announced the supplemental payments would end in late June, but was not named in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit named Shelly Zumwalt, director of Oklahoma Employment Security Commission which administered the unemployment program.

Alex Gerszewski, spokesperson for state attorney general’s office, which represented the state, said the order being reviewed and declined further comment.