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Law firm files lawsuit against Gov. DeSantis, FDEO over state’s dysfunctional unemployment system

On Wednesday a Florida based law firm filed a lawsuit against Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO) over the state’s defective unemployment system.

Tallahassee-based Kitchen Law Firm filed the lawsuit and it names eight plaintiffs on behalf of others. The plaintiffs named each live in different counties throughout the state and hold a variety of jobs including restaurant worker, real estate agent, chef and photographer.

Gautier Kitchen and Marie Mattox filed the lawsuit, claiming the state failed to “maintain [an] adequate unemployment compensation system to pay valid claims” to thousands of Florida residents who are unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They seek immediate payment for hundreds of thousands of Floridians.

The lawsuit also cites the long wait times workers have faced filing for benefits during the pandemic.

“The system was designed to fail, the website in and of itself was intentionally made to be confusing, not user friendly, unnecessarily redundant, a deterrent to just getting people to submit an application much less get approved,” said attorney Gautier Kitchen.

Plaintiff Showalter, said she tried call about 50 times a day but would get disconnected, according to the lawsuit. She was able to get her claim around April 11, but still has not received any further information or money, the lawsuit says.

Plaintiff Walls, was unable to contact anyone at the DEO for 31 days to file for unemployment benefits.

“Plaintiffs, and all others similarly situated numbering in the thousands, were unable to obtain access to the unemployment system to apply for benefits and even after gaining said access, were diverted to another site or have been unable to obtain RA/unemployment compensation benefits rightfully due to them,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also claims that the governor is “ultimately responsible for ensuring that the unemployment compensation system in the State of Florida works and is accessible to citizens.”

The law firm is seeking emergency relief for the plaintiffs, and for others were also affected.

To read the full lawsuit click here. 

Florida is the slowest state to process unemployment claims

UPDATED: Gov. DeSantis Discusses Unemployment System, Economic Task Force’s Reopening Plan