BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Unemployed Workers Union (UWU) took its fight back to the circuit court for a renewed push to get claims of unpaid benefits out to Marylanders.

“People need this money to feed their families, people need this money to pay off bills, people need this money while they look for jobs,” UWU attorney Alec Summerfield said.

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On Monday, the group filed another lawsuit against the Maryland Department of Labor. The union wants the circuit court to review the agency’s handling of unpaid benefits.

“Our petition argued that we need the court to step in as they are allowed to under law and review administrative actions that are in violation of the law,” Summerfield alleges.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Maryland Department of Labor said it paid out close to $14.5 billion in unemployment benefits.

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At this time, more than 99 percent of non-fraudulent and properly completed claims have been processed.

The backlog of claims is also nearly completed while a final batch of “highly complex cases” still require a thorough review, the agency explained.

The Maryland Department of Labor said in a statement that unemployment fraud has been a significant challenge since the beginning of the pandemic.

“To date, our fraud prevention team has flagged nearly 1.8 million claimants—and 2.3 million total claims—as potentially fraudulent,” the statement said. “We have received more fraudulent claims than honest and deserving claims and just last week legislation was introduced in the Maryland legislature to double the penalties for Unemployment Insurance fraud, which have not been updated in more than 35 years.”

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The UWU first filed a lawsuit against the Maryland Department of Labor in July. A circuit judge later dismissed their motion.

Cristina Mendez