A judge heard from out-of-work Floridians involved in a class action lawsuit against the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity.
The case involves 19 people who say the DEO is negligent and violating the law for not promptly providing unemployment benefits.
During the Second Judicial Circuit Court hearing, out-of-work people shared their stories.
“I probably spent three to four hours a day for the first 8 weeks trying to reach out to people in the call centers,” Jacquez McCoy said.
McCoy has revealed during news interviews that a delay in receiving unemployment led to family hardships, including needing to return his baby’s diapers to provide food for his family.
He said during the virtual hearing he received donations from the public saying, “that aspect of it has been very heartwarming and touching.”
The plaintiffs are also suing Deloitte Consulting, the contractor that designed the unemployment system.
The DEO’S Chief Financial Officer Damon Steffens was questioned about how the DEO handled the influx of applications during the pandemic.
He acknowledged the paper applications were rolled out because of capacity issues with the state’s CONNECT portal and revealed just last week there were roughly 15,000 paper applications that haven’t been inputted.
Steffens has worked at the DEO during previous years when audits showed the CONNECT portal suffered technical glitches and errors.
In a previous interview, Attorney Marie Mattox - who is representing the plaintiffs in the case - said she believed the lawsuit was the only way to get relief for those waiting to receive the benefits they qualify for and who are suffering because of the system’s failures.
The plaintiffs are seeking a preliminary injunction that would require DEO to pay them the unemployment benefits and additional damages.