Federal Employees Sue Government Over Shutdown

A man walks near the U.S. Capitol building before sunrise, on October 17, 2013 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Nov. 4, 2013, 11:34 a.m.

Fed­er­al em­ploy­ees who worked dur­ing the gov­ern­ment shut­down are su­ing Uncle Sam for dam­ages be­cause they wer­en’t paid on time.

The class ac­tion law­suit filed by five Bur­eau of Pris­ons em­ploy­ees in the U.S. Court of Fed­er­al Claims al­leges the gov­ern­ment vi­ol­ated the 1938 Fair Labor Stand­ards Act when it delayed full pay for ex­cep­ted em­ploy­ees un­til agen­cies re­opened on Oct. 17. The suit asks the gov­ern­ment to com­pensate ex­cep­ted em­ploy­ees at a rate of $7.25 per hour times the num­ber of hours worked between Oct. 1 and Oct. 5, as well as any ap­plic­able over­time. Em­ploy­ees who worked 8-hour days at that rate for five days would be en­titled to $290 in back pay un­der the law­suit, plus any over­time they are due.

If suc­cess­ful, the plaintiffs would end up re­ceiv­ing double back pay for the trouble the gov­ern­ment shut­down caused them. All gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees, ex­cep­ted and fur­loughed, should have re­ceived their back pay for Oct. 1 through Oct. 5 by now. Em­ploy­ees who re­main on the job dur­ing a shut­down are guar­an­teed back pay by law; Con­gress has to ap­prove back pay for fur­loughed work­ers, which it did for the 16-day shut­down. About 1.3 mil­lion fed­er­al em­ploy­ees were ex­cep­ted dur­ing the shut­down.

The af­fected pay peri­od ran from Sept. 22 through Oct. 5; the gov­ern­ment shut down on Oct. 1, so most fed­er­al ci­vil­ian em­ploy­ees were not paid for Oct. 1 through Oct. 5 in their Oct. 11 paycheck. Mil­it­ary ser­vice mem­bers and many De­fense De­part­ment ci­vil­ians, however, were paid on time dur­ing the gov­ern­ment shut­down. The Pay Our Mil­it­ary Act, which Pres­id­ent Obama signed in­to law on Sept. 30, en­sured that all act­ive-duty and re­serve mem­bers of the armed forces, as well as any ci­vil­ians and con­tract­ors work­ing in sup­port of those forces, were paid on time re­gard­less of the shut­down’s dur­a­tion.

Every­one has been “made whole” at this point, but the plaintiffs in Mar­tin et. al v. The United States ar­gue that the paycheck delay be­cause of the shut­down meant they had trouble pay­ing their bills on time. Mar­tina Cope­land, an ac­count­ing tech­ni­cian who works for the gov­ern­ment, said her fam­ily struggled with pay­ments dur­ing the shut­down. Cope­land, who has three chil­dren and is mar­ried to an­oth­er fed­er­al work­er, par­ti­cip­ated in a press con­fer­ence on Monday or­gan­ized by law­yers at the Wash­ing­ton firm Mehri and Skalet. The firm, which spe­cial­izes in em­ploy­ment dis­crim­in­a­tion cases, is rep­res­ent­ing the fed­er­al em­ploy­ees in Mar­tin et. al v. The United States.

The Fair Labor Stand­ards Act re­quires em­ploy­ers to com­pensate covered nonex­empt em­ploy­ees for any losses they might have suffered as a res­ult of not re­ceiv­ing min­im­um wages or over­time pay on their sched­uled pay day.

What We're Following See More »
AVOIDS SHUTDOWN WITH A FEW HOURS TO SPARE
Trump Signs Border Deal
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"President Trump signed a sweeping spending bill Friday afternoon, averting another partial government shutdown. The action came after Trump had declared a national emergency in a move designed to circumvent Congress and build additional barriers at the southern border, where he said the United States faces 'an invasion of our country.'"

Source:
REDIRECTS $8 BILLION
Trump Declares National Emergency
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"President Donald Trump on Friday declared a state of emergency on the southern border and immediately direct $8 billion to construct or repair as many as 234 miles of a border barrier. The move — which is sure to invite vigorous legal challenges from activists and government officials — comes after Trump failed to get the $5.7 billion he was seeking from lawmakers. Instead, Trump agreed to sign a deal that included just $1.375 for border security."

Source:
COULD SOW DIVISION AMONG REPUBLICANS
House Will Condemn Emergency Declaration
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"House Democrats are gearing up to pass a joint resolution disapproving of President Trump’s emergency declaration to build his U.S.-Mexico border wall, a move that will force Senate Republicans to vote on a contentious issue that divides their party. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Thursday evening in an interview with The Washington Post that the House would take up the resolution in the coming days or weeks. The measure is expected to easily clear the Democratic-led House, and because it would be privileged, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would be forced to put the resolution to a vote that he could lose."

Source:
MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, DRUG FORFEITURE FUND
Where Will the Emergency Money Come From?
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"ABC News has learned the president plans to announce on Friday his intention to spend about $8 billion on the border wall with a mix of spending from Congressional appropriations approved Thursday night, executive action and an emergency declaration. A senior White House official familiar with the plan told ABC News that $1.375 billion would come from the spending bill Congress passed Thursday; $600 million would come from the Treasury Department's drug forfeiture fund; $2.5 billion would come from the Pentagon's drug interdiction program; and through an emergency declaration: $3.5 billion from the Pentagon's military construction budget."

Source:
TRUMP SAYS HE WILL SIGN
House Passes Funding Deal
3 days ago
THE DETAILS

"The House passed a massive border and budget bill that would avert a shutdown and keep the government funded through the end of September. The Senate passed the measure earlier Thursday. The bill provides $1.375 billion for fences, far short of the $5.7 billion President Trump had demanded to fund steel walls. But the president says he will sign the legislation, and instead seek to fund his border wall by declaring a national emergency."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login