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Legal Aid Society announces major settlement distribution for over 50,000 New Yorkers

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The Legal Aid Society, a New York-based non-profit legal aid organization, announced the distribution of over $22 million in settlement funds following a class action lawsuit with the City and State to over 54,000 New Yorkers.

The settlement payments were issued to those who received public assistance and whose benefits were wrongfully reduced or stopped completely between 2007 and 2015 due to alleged violations of employment requirements that mandate recipients to seek and maintain work. 

“We are proud of the years of advocacy and litigation that went into getting our clients and all New Yorkers who are on public assistance and were unlawfully sanctioned some justice,” said Les Helfman, Senior Staff Attorney in the Brooklyn Neighborhood Office of The Legal Aid Society on June 16. “The benefit levels that recipients receive are not enough to pay rent and meet basic needs to begin with, but when families were sanctioned, they were pushed even deeper into poverty. This settlement provides compensation for the neediest of these clients.”

Under the settlement, the City and State restored benefits to recipients after the court found the plaintiffs presented legitimate claims that the sanctions were unlawful and were imposed without adequate time to notify the plaintiffs of the sanctions so that they could avoid them by showing they had legitimate reasons to miss work such as illness or lack of childcare. 

After discovering the City had failed to issue payments, the Legal Aid Society returned to court to enforce the settlement, and a remaining 5,000 individuals received their payments in May of 2022. 

On May 8, 2022, the total payments issued amounted to $22,161,369.00 to 54,280 eligible class members in New York City.

Last updated 6/16/2022 2:17 pm

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