FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 24, 2021
Tyra Robinson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 410-625-9409 x 223
Erin Brock, email@example.com, 410-625-9409 x 242
BALTIMORE – A group of Marylanders filed a lawsuit today against the Maryland Department of Labor’s Secretary, Tiffany Robinson, seeking to require Secretary Robinson to correct Maryland’s gross and systemic failures to administer unemployment benefits to Marylanders in accordance with the United States Constitution and federal Social Security Act. The group alleges that through her control over the Maryland Department of Labor (MDL), Secretary Robinson is violating federal law and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. The suit requests declaratory and injunctive relief, including an order requiring the defendant to bring Maryland’s unemployment policies and practices into compliance with the law.
Plaintiffs and many others complained to the Public Justice Center – complaints that were echoed widely on social media and in news coverage, highlighting key concerns with the administration of unemployment benefits. These concerns ranged between: Marylanders who applied for benefits and have waited five months, some even longer, without receiving a determination of eligibility; Marylanders who started receiving unemployment benefits but whose benefits were interrupted for long periods without explanation; and Marylanders who were granted and received unemployment benefits but were then told they had been overpaid benefits without prior notice of – or an opportunity to refute – that claim before their benefits were cut off or their taxes intercepted.
The group of Marylanders in this proposed class action sued because these violations are gross and systemic failures that cannot go unanswered. Out of 53 total jurisdictions in U.S. Department of Labor rankings, Maryland ranks a dismal 44th in timeliness of initial benefit payments. MDL’s current patterns and practices for determining and paying benefits result in poor rankings and illegal and unconstitutional outcomes. For example, Plaintiffs allege that Maryland timely determines Maryland claimants’ initial eligibility for unemployment benefits just 43.2% of the time, violating the law 56.8% of the time. This group seeks to represent all others suffering from the dysfunctions set out in the complaint and ensure that Secretary Robinson remedies these failures immediately. Plaintiffs’ suit is for injunctive relief, and seeks to require the Secretary to comply with federal law.
One of the plaintiffs in the case, Mark Gorres, said of his experience being delayed in receiving a benefit determination, “There is nothing I can do to repair the damage to my health resulting from going without needed medications for months.”
Tyra Robinson, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, said, “Unemployment insurance is a critical safety net for workers, enabling them to buy food and pay rent, and tiding them over until their next job. The system must work for people, not against them. Marylanders cannot afford for the unemployment insurance system to utterly fail. We’re suing to fix the system.”
The case is Gorres, et al, v. Robinson filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. The plaintiffs are represented by the Public Justice Center and Gallagher Evelius & Jones LLP. The complaint is available here: http://www.publicjustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Gorres-et-al-v.-Robinson-complaint.pdf