FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – A lawsuit was filed by 10 unemployed Broward County residents on Sunday against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) in an effort to compel the state to reinstate the $300 weekly extended federal unemployment benefits that had been cut in late June.
Despite the fact that the benefits are slated to expire nationally in September, Florida had declared that the state was ending their participation in the program early, claiming that the money actually encouraged people to sit at home instead of going out and looking for a job, according to DEO Secretary Dane Eagle.
“Thanks to Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida’s economy has bounced back tremendously with over 460,000 jobs available throughout our state and the strongest economic conditions in the nation,” he said. “Florida’s employers are also seeing employment growth, as more Floridians, including some who completely left the workforce, are now eagerly reentering the workforce. Transitioning away from this benefit will help meet the demands of small and large businesses who are ready to hire and expand their workforce.”
The lawsuit, filed by attorneys Scott Behren, Gautier Kitchen, and Marie Mattox, has named DeSantis, the DEO, and Eagle as defendants, and aims to restore benefits not only for the 10 plaintiffs, but for all unemployed Florida residents.
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“Each of the Plaintiffs have suffered economic hardships because of COVID, have had difficulty finding work and now, with the discontinuation of the [Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation], face even more pressing financial hardships,” the lawsuit states.
In March, Congress approved $300 weekly extended federal unemployment benefits until the first week of September; however, to date 26 states – including Florida – have ended their participation in the program early, claiming that they additional monetary benefits incentivized people not to work.
However, there are currently multiple states whose decision to end benefits early is being legally challenged by their citizens, including Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma and Texas; in Indiana and Maryland, judges have already restored the payments pending litigation.