10 Civ 6350 (SDNY)

This class action was filed in August 2010 against NYC Human Resources Administration and NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, on behalf of thousands of recipients of Safety Net Assistance living in households with children.  The suit challenged a policy and practice pursuant to which thousands of recipients of Safety Net Assistance received inaccurate and misleading notices which imposed excessively-long employment-related sanctions and caused them to lose two to five months of benefits to which they were entitled.  Plaintiffs sought an injunction ordering Defendants to refrain from issuing such incorrect notices, delete all sanctions imposed upon members of the plaintiff class pursuant to such incorrect notices, restore lost benefits to all members of the plaintiff class who were unlawfully sanctioned pursuant to these notices, and revise their notices to contain information necessary to allow recipients to understand and meaningfully challenge such penalties in the future.

A negotiated settlement was approved by the court in March 2013. Pursuant to this settlement agreement, City and State Defendants agreed to refrain from their unlawful conduct, lift all sanctions currently in effect pursuant to Defendants’ incorrect notices, delete all sanctions imposed upon members of the plaintiff class since August 2004 pursuant to such incorrect notices, and restore lost benefits to all members of the plaintiff class who were unlawfully subjected to excessive penalties pursuant to these notices. City Defendants paid retroactive benefits of more than $3 million to approximately seven thousand class members at the time the settlement was entered, and have paid an additional $1.1 million to individuals identified in monthly “sweeps” of the Safety Net rolls since that time. These sweeps will continue until 2016.

NYLAG and co-counsel continue to monitor both the retroactive payments and ongoing employment-related sanction practices. During the monitoring period, plaintiffs’ counsel have detected two additional sets of sanction length errors and brought them to Defendants’ attention. Defendants have investigated the causes of the problems and identified affected families, corrected the problems, and issued retroactive benefits to the families affected. The City and State have also re-programmed aspects of their computer systems to automate some of the remaining notices that require manual entry of data, in order to further reduce the frequency of errors.

NYLAG Attorneys: Jane Greengold Stevens, Julia Russell, Danielle Tarantolo

NYLAG Co-counsel: Legal Aid Society; Cooley LLP

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