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Florida woman sues DEO for unemployment benefits

Posted at 10:09 PM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 17:33:04-04

CAPE CORAL, FLA — UPDATE:

Wells has contacted FOX 4 to say that a Florida Department of Economic of Opportunity (DEO) representative has called her and unlocked her account.

A spokesperson for the DEO also sent FOX 4 the following statement:

Thank you again for reaching out to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The Department remains committed to making sure all eligible claimants receive the benefits they are owed as quickly as possible.

The Department is unable to comment on pending litigation.

Listed below is more information about this process:

Claimants who have already verified their identity through ID.me, but their CONNECT accounts remained locked, now have the ability to notify the Department of their “Locked” claim status in their CONNECT account.

Claimants should visit the Reemployment Assistance Help Center [mobile.connect.myflorida.com] to notify the Department that their Reemployment Assistance claim is locked. In the Reemployment Assistance Help Center, select “I am a Claimant,” and then select “Account Login Assistance,” then select the next series of options that match their log-in issue to notify the Department.

Claimants who have successfully completed the verification process with ID.me, do not need to re-verify with ID.me.

If a claimant has not completed the ID.me verification process, click here [hosted-pages.id.me].
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ORIGINAL STORY:

Frustrated and let down. That's where current wait times for unemployment benefits, have left Nikasha Wells.

"I feel like at a time when I feel like I needed my state the most, that they have really let me down," she said.

You may remember the West Palm Beach mom from a story we did nearly two months ago when she reached out to FOX 4 to help to get her checks.

At that point, she'd been waiting about four months and the time has continued to drag on.

"I should not have to wait six months to access a state agency," she said.

In that time she says she's reached out to the state Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) for help in getting her account unlocked and getting her money, but claims she's only gotten radio silence in response.

So today, she got the court involved.

"I had to file a lawsuit in Leon county, basically asking for the money that I am entitled to which at this point is in excess of 10,000 dollars," she said.

Court filings show that Wells is owed $11,500 in retroactive benefits.

Local lawyer Maria Alaimo tells FOX 4, that the only thing that surprises her about this case is that Wells didn't file sooner.

"Honestly, I thought it was about time to do something because I've heard a lot from different sources and people," she said, "I think it's very much a valid case in the sense that it appears from what we can see from the pleadings that she has tried every way she knows how to through and say here's this problem, I haven't been paid, I need to be paid, I made my claim."

Wells tells FOX 4 she thinks it's ridiculous that it's come to this, but adds that she hopes that her lawsuit inspires others to follow her lead.

"I'm just infuriated and I am hoping that my lawsuit is the beginning of a wave of change for how this department is operating," she said.

FOX 4 reached out to the DEO for a response to this lawsuit. They acknowledged our request but didn't send us an answer in time for broadcast.

The DEO has 20 days to respond to her suit once they've been served.