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Jeff Vasilinda becomes the Vasilinda Family’s first published author!

Lawsuit Seeks to Restore Benefits

July 26th, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida is one of nine states that ended additional $300 unemployment payments more than two months early on June 26th because thousands of jobs were going unfilled, but a lawsuit filed late Sunday seeks to restore the weekly stipend.

An estimated 150,000 Floridians lost $300 a week in additional federal unemployment payments at the end of June.

Now a new law suit filed on behalf of ten unemployed Floridians seeks to force the state to make the payments.

Gia Cuccero is one of the plaintiffs.

“There’s restaurant help and bartenders. I’ve never done anything like that in my life. I’m 52 years old and I don’t know what I’m going to do,” said Cuccero.

The American Cares Act funding runs through September 6th, but in May the Governor said it was keeping people from looking for work.

“We’ve got almost half a million job opening in the state of Florida,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

“And what he did was throw out the baby with the bath water,” said Attorney Marie Mattox, who is representing the plaintiffs in the case.

Florida law reads in part says the state must “secure…all advantages available under the provisions of federal law relating to reemployment assistance”

“No person is above the law and that certainly includes the Governor or a governmental bureaucrat in charge of DEO,” said Gautier Kitchen, another attorney working on the case.

Nine of the ten plaintiffs are women, in part because women have been hit harder by the loss of the extra cash.

“If you’d kept the benefits in place until September 6th, it gives the opportunity for some of these mothers taking care of their kids, to send their kids back to school full time,” said Attorney Scott Behren, also representing plaintiffs in the case.

For Cuccero, the future remains uncertain.

“If I get a job interview, I have to get to that interview. I don’t have money to get to that job interview,” said Cuccero.

By ending the payments early, the state is refusing an estimated $400 million that could have gone into the economy.

The plaintiffs want a judge to order the payments and make them retroactive.

Update: Here is a statement from the Governor and DEO:

The Department has received the lawsuit and will respond accordingly; however, the Department contests the alleged violation of law. Below is background information for you on this topic.

On May 12, 2021, the Department announced Florida’s ‘Return to Work’ initiative, which is focused on encouraging Floridians to return to the workforce, helping employers attract job seekers, and continuing to fuel the state’s economic growth. As part of Florida’s Return to Work initiative, the Department announced on May 24, 2021, the state’s withdrawal of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation programs, which, in compliance with Department of Labor policies, went into effect on June 26, 2021.

The Department withdrew from these programs due to positive, record-breaking economic factors. For 11 consecutive months, Florida’s unemployment rate, currently at 5.0 percent, has remained below the national rate, which is currently at 5.9 percent. For 14 consecutive months, Florida has continuously gained jobs, with more than 907,900 jobs added since the height of the pandemic. Additionally, there are more than 520,000 job postings currently available across Florida.

Florida businesses and employers are hiring across the state and need unemployed Floridians to return to the workforce. The Department stands ready to assist Floridians in this process.



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