Robinson Bradshaw Challenges Exclusion of Low-Income Families from State Coronavirus Relief Payments



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Oct. 29, 2020

Robinson Bradshaw filed a complaint challenging the exclusion of low-income families from coronavirus relief payments by the state of North Carolina. The firm represents Legal Aid of North Carolina, the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and several low-income residents pro bono in the suit.

In September, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a statute to use federal coronavirus relief funds to send $335 checks to North Carolina families with children to help with remote learning and childcare costs during the pandemic. The law allows middle- and high-income families to automatically receive the relief funds, while requiring families with incomes so low that they did not file state income tax returns to submit an application for their share of the funds.

Many low-income families never even learned of the program. The law also gave these low-income North Carolinians less than a month to submit an application. As a result, over 200,000 families with incomes under $10,000 or $20,000 – the families most in need of help with remote learning and childcare expenses – will receive nothing.

The lawsuit argues that the exclusion of low-income families violates the state constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and procedural due process. It also argues that the application requirement serves no legitimate purpose for many low-income families, as the state already has access to the information required to send relief checks to those families, and that the state failed to give low-income families meaningful notice that this aid was available to them and that they needed to apply. The suit asks the court to declare the relief program unconstitutional as applied to many low-income families and require the Department of Revenue to adopt a plan that ensures these families receive the relief aid.

Robinson Bradshaw attorneys Adam K. Doerr, Erik R. Zimmerman, Travis S. Hinman, Demi Lorant Bostian and Timothy P. Misner represent the clients in this matter.

For inquiries about the North Carolina Extra Credit Grants lawsuit, please click here.

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