JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A lawsuit is in the works to sue state officials for cutting off federal unemployment benefits early.
The $300 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments were discontinued in June, leaving unemployed Floridians living off a maximum of $275 per week.
Those $300 FPUC payments came from the CARES Act, and the legislation allowed those payments to last through September.
Florida, along with more than 20 other states, discontinued the payments early.
“It’s been tough for a lot of folks,” said Carla Poe, who is currently unemployed. “It feels like they pulled the rug out from under us.”
Small donations to a GoFundMe from hundreds of unemployed Floridians went a long way.
In about three days, more than $12,000 was raised to pay legal fees to sue state officials.
Attorney Scott Behren is up to the task.
Behren has received countless messages from unemployed Floridians, asking for his help.
“To cut it off in a state like Florida, where the amount was already so low, and the federal is only just making it where someone could maybe pay their bills with it, is astounding,” Behren said.
Behren plans to represent these unemployed Floridians in a lawsuit against multiple state officials. Similar lawsuits have been filed in states like Indiana, Maryland, Ohio and Texas.
“Most of the states filed lawsuits based upon a similar statute,” Behren said.
The statutes these states used are very similar to Florida State Statute 443.171 (9) STATE-FEDERAL COOPERATION which states:
In the administration of this chapter, 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, through the adoption of appropriate rules, administrative methods, and standards, necessary to secure for this state all advantages available under the provisions of federal law relating to reemployment assistance.
“I’m optimistic based upon the other states and the outcomes of the other states with statutes that are virtually identical to that in Florida,” Behren said.
Behren says he expects to have the lawsuit filed next week.