Man files lawsuit over lack of unemployment benefits
BATON ROUGE - A man waiting on unemployment benefits has decided to sue after getting nowhere on the telephone. Michael Hampton reached out to 2 On Your Side earlier this week about his frustrations and his lawsuit.
"I might be on the streets," he said.
That's a thought that's crossed Hampton's mind more than once over the last few weeks ever since his unemployment benefits abruptly halted last month. He was asked to prove his identity and says he submitted all the necessary paperwork but didn't hear anything back. Days went by, and he continued to check his account online and call the Louisiana Workforce Commission but couldn't get answers about his claim.
"I was constantly getting the runaround, constantly getting the runaround, constantly getting the runaround," he said.
Since mid-December, Hampton says he's been unable to pay his bills and wasn't sure if he'd be able to make his January rent.
"And so I finally said, 'hey, you know what? I can't get no results. You don't want to talk to me. Let's talk to the judge," Hampton said.
On Jan. 4, 2021, Hampton filed a civil suit. The suit says he'll suffer damages and can be evicted if the situation isn't expedited.
"If you're going to stop my benefits at least give me some type of hearing," he said.
On Wednesday, 2 On Your Side submitted Hampton's information to LWC so they'd get in contact with him. Hampton says he hasn't heard from anyone.
LWC Secretary Ava Dejoie said Friday, there are about 30,000 claimants waiting to hear back from LWC about various issues. Anyone receiving benefits has to verify their identity, and the caseload is large. LWC says it is training employees who will work nights and weekends to clear those people waiting for identification approval and other issues.
"We are hiring daily. We are training daily. We pulled other people from other divisions within the agency," Dejoie said.
LWC says it can't comment on any pending legal action.
For people like Hampton, the wait is painful. It's why he's taking drastic steps to get the answers he's been waiting for.
So far this year, LWC says it's distributed about $41 million in Federal Unemployment Compensation payments to about 140,000 people. In all of 2020, LWC paid out more than $7 billion in federal and state unemployment insurance benefits to nearly 700,000 claimants.