Two Bay Area workers have initiated a class action lawsuit against the highly criticized California Employment Development Department (EDD), responsible for handling unemployment insurance. The workers claim that the EDD violated their rights by retroactively denying their benefits and providing confusingly worded notification letters.
This lawsuit has the potential to impact numerous workers who have experienced retroactive benefit cancellations or who may rely on the EDD for unemployment assistance in the future. The plaintiffs, Renee Okamura and Kathryn Din, previously worked as a cashier in Alameda County and in a San Francisco hotel, respectively.
Both women had to leave their jobs due to pandemic-related circumstances. Okamura, being at high risk for Covid complications, and Din, facing furlough and eventual layoff, sought and received unemployment benefits. However, two years later, the EDD accused Okamura of false statements in her claim, while Din was informed through a collection notice that she had been mistakenly paid. The previous notifications were sent to her previous address, as mentioned in the lawsuit.
EDD demanded the return of thousands of dollars already spent on living expenses from both women, with Okamura facing an additional fraud penalty. Fortunately, both were able to appeal and have these decisions overturned.
The lawsuit over unemployment benefit denials, filed in Alameda County, argues that the EDD not only erred in their handling of these cases but also failed to properly inform the affected workers and others facing similar decisions. This alleged failure constitutes a violation of due process rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The timing of this lawsuit is significant as the EDD has faced severe criticism for its dysfunction during the Covid pandemic, including widespread fraud and obstacles in providing benefits to Californians.
EDD has chosen not to comment on the lawsuit.
If you’re struggling to file a claim against an employer who violates labor laws, reach out to Labor Law Advocates for expert guidance and support. Our team of professionals can assist you in navigating the complex legal terrain with ease and efficiency.