CAPE CORAL, FLA — Nikasha Wells, of West Palm Beach, says June 29, 2021, started out normally. And then she got a phone call.
"I couldn't even click over fast enough. My hand was shaken so badly," she said.
No, this wasn't a call from the lottery board, but for her, it felt like it.
"It sounded like an angel. It was a woman a representative from the DEO."
It's a call she says she'd been waiting for, for months after her unemployment account was locked.
"She didn't say anything about my lawsuit. Her exact words were that she got an email about my claim and she was there to assist me," she said.
Yes, you read that right.
Wells was in the middle of suing the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity when she got that call in June and she credits her legal action for the response.
Since her story aired on FOX 4, many of you have wanted to know how she did it. So we asked her.
She said the first step to filing is to create an account at http://myflcourtaccess.com/.
"You can literally on your computer file a lawsuit in any one of the 67 counties in the state," she said.
In this case, because the DEO is based in Tallahassee, she says you'll want to file in Leon county.
Next, she encourages you to get specific.
"Put all the details about your case, your name, your claim number, what issues you're having with DEO," she said.
There are costs associated with filing a lawsuit, even if you do it online. But, Wells says there's a chance you can have those fees waived.
She says it's a question that you'll be asked right before you submit your lawsuit.
"If you don't have any income you are at least able to apply for indigency status," she said, "I wish the DEO would just fix the system that seems to me to be the easiest answer but until that happens and I am hoping that is one day soon, I'm willing to help as many people as I possibly can."
If you have follow-up questions, you can email her at email@example.com.
We also reached out to the DEO for a comment on the fact that folks are turning to possible lawsuits in hopes of getting their money and they are working to get us a response.
Wells' lawsuit isn't the first lawsuit the department has faced during this pandemic.
A group based out of Broward County is currently suing the governor and the DEO.
They say the state ended its federal unemployment benefits program early. That program provided an extra $300 dollars a week, for folks claiming those benefits.
The DEO sent FOX 4 a statement on that lawsuit:
The Department has received the lawsuit and will respond accordingly; however, the Department contests the alleged violation of law. Below is background information for you on this topic.
On May 12, 2021, the Department announced Florida’s ‘Return to Work’ initiative, which is focused on encouraging Floridians to return to the workforce, helping employers attract job seekers, and continuing to fuel the state’s economic growth. As part of Florida’s Return to Work initiative, the Department announced on May 24, 2021, the state’s withdrawal of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation programs, which, in compliance with Department of Labor policies, went into effect on June 26, 2021.
The Department withdrew from these programs due to positive, record-breaking economic factors. For 11 consecutive months, Florida’s unemployment rate, currently at 5.0 percent, has remained below the national rate, which is currently at 5.9 percent. For 14 consecutive months, Florida has continuously gained jobs, with more than 907,900 jobs added since the height of the pandemic. Additionally, there are more than 520,000 job postings currently available across Florida.
Florida businesses and employers are hiring across the state and need unemployed Floridians to return to the workforce. The Department stands ready to assist Floridians in this process.