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AFGE sues over government shut down

By staff |
January 1, 2019
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Washington D.C. – On December 31, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) and Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman & Fitch (KCNF DC) sued the federal government on behalf of AFGE members and federal employees being forced to work without pay. The lawsuit alleges that the federal government is violating the law by requiring some federal employees to work without pay during a shutdown.

“Our members put their lives on the line to keep our country safe,” said J. David Cox Sr., national president, American Federation of Government Employees.

“The harm to federal employees began at the first moment of the shutdown. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees are working under sometimes dangerous conditions, including the plaintiffs who were forced to work overtime without pay,” said Heidi Burakiewicz, partner at KCNF DC. “Approximately 420,000 federal employees are continuing to work, but don’t know when they will get their next paychecks. This is not an acceptable way for any employer, let alone the U.S. government, to treat its employees. These employees still need to pay childcare expenses, buy gas, and incur other expenses to go to work every day and yet, they are not getting paid. It is a blatant violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.”

The lawsuit is brought on behalf of all ‘essential’ federal employees, those who are required to work without pay during the shutdown.

After the 2013 shutdown, approximately 25,000 essential federal employees, represented by KCNF DC, sued the government, arguing that the Fair Labor Standards Act requires that all employees, including federal employees, be paid on time for their services. In 2014, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims agreed and, in 2017, the court held further that the employees were entitled to twice their back pay because of the violation. However, even while the government is calculating the damages to those approximately 25,000 employees, the Office of Personnel Management has not required that essential federal employees be paid on time during the current shutdown.