Becky is a 27-year-old single mother, who was working as an office temp while she sought long-term employment to provide for her son. The firm she was temping with told her they had no more work for her, so she applied for unemployment benefits and redoubled her job search. To prove that she was eligible for these benefits, she certified that she was able to work, and every two weeks, she presented a list of the job applications she had filled out. In spite of doing everything needed to get the unemployment, her former temp firm challenged her eligibility four times so they wouldn’t have to pay into the Unemployment Insurance Fund. On her own, Becky went before an administrative judge each time and proved that she was available to work and actively seeking a job, and so deserved the checks she should have been issued. After the fourth challenge, the Illinois Department of Employment Security stopped sending her checks, because they assumed something was going wrong. She needed the checks to care for her young son, but her bullying ex-employer still challenged her again. She came to LAF, feeling harassed and persecuted. She was right, and LAF Staff Attorney Matt Monahan and Harvard Law Student Sabreena El-Amin stepped up to represent Becky at her fifth hearing. When the temp agency saw that Becky now had legal representation, they immediately withdrew their appeal of her receipt of benefits, and the Department mailed her check and made a promise of future checks until she finds a job.
She sent Matt Monahan the following email, to express her gratitude:
“I sincerely do not have the words to express my deepest gratitude to you, Sabreena, and the services of LAF. In a moment, when I was helpless and feeling that all hope is lost, and that I would continue to be bullied by my temp firm, there you and Sabreena were, with LAF. I am beyond thankful to you, that in my case, my file, and personally, I was not treated as a number, I was not treated as if I was ‘just another’ destitute client, but rather, the exact opposite. I was treated graciously, I was heard, the lines of communication were always open, and a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. In closing, I have no more words other than thank you.”
LAF is proud to stand up against bullies who take advantage of people because they think nobody is looking out for them. We are proud of the folks like Matt and Sabreena who are always looking out for our clients and willing to stand up to bullies.