By MARK PAULBURN Staff WriterWASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Education will send $20 million to a group of community college employees who sued the Trump administration over its handling of the nation’s largest jobless aid program, an Education Department official confirmed to Axios.
The employees sued the administration over the so-called “jobless aid” program in November and are seeking damages, including reinstatement of their jobs and back pay, the official said.
The lawsuit also accuses the administration of violating their First Amendment rights by not protecting them from government censorship.
The administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The department previously told Axios it plans to send the money.
The money is the first money the department has spent on a state jobless assistance program since President Donald Trump took office in January, according to data compiled by Axios on behalf of the Center for Responsive Politics.
The jobless programs help students and low-income people pay for college.
They were created under the Clinton administration in the 1990s and were intended to help states and states and localities improve job retention and pay for higher education.
The lawsuit filed in federal court in Ohio in November accused the Trump team of withholding payments from the state’s state job-training program, which helps low-wage workers earn entry-level jobs.
The state, which has a population of less than 2 million people, receives $25 billion a year in job-loan money from the federal government, according the lawsuit.
The Trump administration responded to the lawsuit by saying it was “committed to providing a robust, fair, and affordable public education system to all students.”
The lawsuit also charged that the administration was “abusing its discretion to withhold payments” to community college and community college students.
The Trump administration said it was acting in response to the federal lawsuit.
In a statement, the administration said that the money was “sent to support the employees in this lawsuit because they have been unable to receive payment since the Trump Administration terminated their employment.”
The Department of Labor and the Office of Inspector General are investigating the allegations, the statement said.