Making Justice Real

The Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

An Unemployment Victory for One Client Could Mean Fewer Hurdles for Many More Moving Forward

On February 3, 2022, the District Columbia Court of Appeals released its opinion in Young v. District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (DOES), awarding unemployment benefits to Legal Aid client Ashley Young. The central issue in the case was whether DOES could deny back benefits to Ms. Young after she failed to respond to an email (which she never received) asking her to fill out a quality control questionnaire. Much later, when Ms. Young found out about the questionnaire, she filled it out and began to receive benefits going forward, but DOES refused to give her payments for the time before she filled out the questionnaire.

On appeal, the Court found that the denial of Ms. Young’s unemployment benefits was unlawful, and not only reversed the decision below but also ordered that Ms. Young be paid all back benefits she sought.

“We are excited for Ms. Young,” said Nicole Dooley, the lead attorney in Ms. Young’s case. “This case was important for many reasons, including the need to allow so many District workers the opportunity to have fair consideration before DOES.”

Jonathan Levy, who presented the oral argument before the Court added: “We hope that as a result of this case, DOES will start paying claimants the full amount of benefits to which they are entitled, and no longer make claimants go all the way to the D.C. Court of Appeals just to get what they deserve.”

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