Florida residents sue DeSantis, DEO after losing weekly $300 federal unemployment benefits

Southeast

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A group of Broward County residents are suing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity over their decision to stop jobless Floridians from receiving an additional $300 in weekly benefits.

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys Scott Behren, Gautier Kitchen, and Marie Mattox, names DeSantis, the DEO and its director, Dane Eagle as defendants. It seeks to restore benefits for all unemployed Floridians.

In May, the DEO announced plans to withdraw from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program, ending the extra $300 per week payments on June 26. Congress had voted to extend the $300 weekly federal unemployment payments through September.

The lawsuit claims Florida wrongly discontinued the benefits in violation of Florida Statues Sections 443.031 and 443.171. It says the plaintiffs have suffered economic hardships and struggled to find work due to COVID-19, and that some risk being evicted.

“If 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,” the lawsuit states.

The move comes as Florida continues to grapple with the Delta COVID-19 variant, recording more new COVID-19 cases than any other U.S. state. The spike in cases has health officials warning of a 4th wave of COVID-19.

“Going into the fall with the delta variant, we could have a really serious problem with a considerable surge of infections,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases.

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