Need Help? (410) 625-9409

Video: Extending a lifeline for unemployed jobseekers

A Justice for Breakfast conversation on advocacy to maintain access to critical federal unemployment insurance benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic

Presentation by PJC attorneys Sally Dworak-Fisher and Tyra Robinson

November 17, 2021

Mass layoffs. Business closures. Unemployment levels not seen in the U.S. since the Great Depression. The COVID-19 pandemic devastated Maryland workers. Many found a lifeline in expanded federal unemployment benefits. Yet Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and state Secretary of Labor Tiffany Robinson tried to deny workers this lifeline months before the scheduled expiration.

But workers and advocates pushed back, and they won! This summer, the Public Justice Center and Gallagher Evelius & Jones represented six workers, including members of UNITE HERE! Local 7, in a successful lawsuit to keep federal benefits flowing for hundreds of thousands of workers. Members of the Unemployed Workers Union, represented by Alec Summerfield and Robbie Leonard of Leonard & McCliggott Law Group, also filed a similar suit.

This victory had an incredible impact. Estimates showed that, with the Court’s favorable decision in these cases, Maryland would receive at least $1.5 billion in federal funds to support unemployed workers and their families until those programs expired.

Watch the video to learn more about the victory and efforts to resolve the significant and systemic challenges that remain.