Employees Sue Government Over Shutdown

Employees Sue Government Over Shutdown


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. Continue reading “Employees Sue Government Over Shutdown”

Frozen, Furloughed and Sequestered: Federal Workers Fed Up

Frozen, Furloughed and Sequestered: Federal Workers Fed Up


Federal workers at Fort Hood, in Killeen, Texas, in March protested the sequester cuts and the resulting furloughs. The Government Employees union showed how furloughs could be avoided, by pruning back outside contracts, but private contractors have vigorous advocates in Congress. Photo: AFGE.

“Weekday frequent flyers”—that is, business travelers—must have felt drunk with power in April, when Congress rushed to fix the inconvenience caused by air traffic controller furloughs.

Other federal employees—such as those who work on housing for the poor, or to save the environment—don’t have such powerful constituencies. The government-wide cuts known as “the sequester” took effect March 1, forcing agencies to cut $85 billion from their budgets through September 30.

Among many other cuts, that meant furloughs of five to 11 days’ unpaid time off, depending on the agency. Six hundred fifty thousand civilian Defense Department employees will take a day off every week, beginning in July—a 20 percent pay cut. Continue reading “Frozen, Furloughed and Sequestered: Federal Workers Fed Up”

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