NewsFlorida News


Florida woman sues DEO for unemployment benefits

Posted at 8:21 AM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 08:22:58-04

CAPE CORAL, FLA — 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," 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.