Unemployed Maryland workers, who won a court fight earlier this month against Gov. Larry Hogan’s plan to end expanded jobless benefits, were back in court Wednesday, broadening their class-action case to include thousands of workers denied unemployment benefits by the state.
Unemployed workers who are receiving the expanded federal benefits are getting three months of benefits, which Hogan tried to stop, arguing that the expanded benefits were worsening the state’s labor shortage.
Now the group, calling itself the Unemployed Workers Union, has amended its complaint, adding 10 more named individuals and encompassing an estimated 60,000 additional workers who weren’t eligible for the expanded benefits because they were either denied the initial benefits or had their benefits ended.
“The people aren’t getting their money; they’re still not getting their $300. And some people haven’t been paid since 2020,” said Sharon Black, an organizer of the Unemployed Workers Union, who spoke outside Baltimore’s Elijah E. Cummings Courthouse.
The state said it denied benefits because of fraudulent claims, but the group’s new court filing spells out individual cases, where unemployed workers provided sworn affidavits in which they deny any fraud in cases where they were denied benefits.
One of the new affiants named by the group is Henrietta Louise Heitzeri, described as a 28-year veteran school bus driver attendant whose unemployment benefits were cut off this year.
“We’re hoping to move forward quickly because people need this money. They needed it a year ago and the desperation, frankly, cannot be understated,” said Alec Summerfield, a pro-bono lawyer representing the group.
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