Lawsuit Filed to Restore Federal Unemployment Assistance in Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis


A lawsuit against Governor DeSantis, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), and its Director Dane Eagle was filed on Sunday in an attempt to bring back the $300 a week in federal unemployment assistance to Floridians.

The federal assistance was supposed to be available through September 6th but was cut off on June 26th by DeSantis and the DEO under the “Return to Work” initiative.

The suit was filed by attorneys Scott Behren, Gautier Kitchen, and Marie Mattox, representing ten Broward County individuals on behalf of “all unemployed Floridians,” the suit states. “If Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefits are terminated in Florida, each of the Plaintiffs and other needy residents of the State of Florida, will be unable to cover basic living expenses such as housing, utilities, food, health care, and child care.”

It also criticizes Florida’s unemployment system by saying, “Given that Florida’s unemployment compensation program pays one of the lowest benefits in the Country, and is one of the shortest durations in the country, even the addition of the extra Federal payments still barely allows unemployed Floridians to pay their basic living expenses.”

The suit says that the FPUC benefits are an “extension” of the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) in the Constitution that established cooperation between states and the Federal Government’s “national unemployment system.” Section 443.031 Florida Statutes referenced by the Plaintiffs in their argument, states, “The Legislature hereby declares its intention to provide for carrying out the purposes of this chapter in cooperation with the appropriate agencies of other states and of the Federal Government as part of a nationwide employment security program, and particularly to provide for meeting the requirements of… the Federal Unemployment Tax Act.”

It also mentions that Defendants violated Section 443.171 (9) Florida Statutes regarding the DEO. The statute states, “The Department of Economic Opportunity and its tax collection service provider shall cooperate with the United States Department of Labor to the fullest extent consistent with this chapter and shall take those actions… necessary to secure for this state all advantages available under the provisions of federal law relating to reemployment assistance.”

“By terminating Florida’s participation in FPUC benefits under [the U.S. Constitution], Defendants are violating their clear legal and statutory duty to secure such benefits for employees in the State of Florida including the Plaintiffs and all other residents of the State of Florida,” the suit declares.

As a result of the lawsuit, Plaintiffs seek a writ of mandamus that will effectively restore the federal unemployment assistance to Floridians, as well as their ability to receive “retroactive payments” that were lost since June 26th.

In addition, the Plaintiffs also seek a temporary and permanent mandatory injunction against the Defendants for future attempts to eliminate FPUC benefits. The lawsuit will be officially submitted to the Broward County Clerk of Courts in the coming days.

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Casey Owens is a contributing writer for The Florida Capital Star. Follow him on Twitter at @cowensreports. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Ron DeSantis” by Gage Skidmore CC BY-SA 2.0.




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