UNEMPLOYMENT

Florida and DeSantis sued for ending unemployment benefits early: can they be brought back? 

Ten plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit against the State of Florida over its move to end federal unemployment benefits before the 6 September deadline.

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Florida and DeSantis sued for ending unemployment benefits early: can they be brought back? 
JUSTIN SULLIVAN AFP

Ten unemployed workers in Florida are suing the state government to have their federal unemployment benefits reinstated.

The Florida Phoenix has reported that the filed against the State, “alleges that Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity are in violation of a statute requiring them to cooperate with federal labor officials “to the fullest extent … necessary to secure for this state all advantages available under the provisions of federal law relating to reemployment assistance.”

The governor called for the ending of payments on 26 June, much earlier than the 6 September federal deadline.

The legal team is hoping that the suit will force the state to restart the $300 weekly pandemic benefit paid by the federal government in addition to state payments.

The complaint was filed on Sunday by three lawyers, Gautier Kitchen, Marie Mattox, and Scott Behren. Currently, those receiving unemployment benefits can not receive more than $275 a week. However, nationally, the $300 payment bumps the average weekly benefit to $605, or around $31,500 for someone working for $16 an hour, according to Fox Business.

Why did Florida end federal benefits?

Gov. DeSantis is one of twenty-six state leaders who called to end federal unemployment benefits. The announcement came in late May that the state would stop the payments on 26 June.

The governor cited complaints and concerns by the private sector that they were struggling to hire workers when competing with overly generous federal benefits. However, some economists have argued that the temporary nature of the benefits is not impacting the decision of unemployed workers to forgo reentry into the job market.

Other suits in other states

Florida follows several other states where those on unemployment have made similar moves. Courts in Indiana have ruled in favor of the unemployed workers and the government has had to end the pause on federal payments.

Indiana restarted the benefit, including retroactive payments, for around 120,000 workers on 12 July after a Court of Appeals injunction.