AFGE Pushes to Stop Government’s Delay on Hazard Pay Lawsuit

Categories: The Insider, Coronavirus

AFGE is fighting the government’s effort to delay our union’s hazard pay lawsuit following a judge’s ruling in an unrelated case.

AFGE has been leading the fight to ensure that federal government workers who have put their health and safety on the line by reporting to work in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic are compensated according to the law.

On March 27, 2020, AFGE along with Heidi Burakiewicz of the law firm Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman and Fitch filed a lawsuit in the Court of Federal Claims seeking compensation for federal workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace. 

Our lawsuit seeks 25% hazardous duty pay for exposed General Schedule employees and 8% environmental differential pay for exposed Wage Grade employees. 

The government filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit on Dec. 11, 2020, claiming that employees who work in close proximity to individuals who have been infected with COVID-19 should not be entitled to the additional compensation. The government also argued that Transportation Security Officers are not entitled to hazard pay pursuant to the 2001 law that created the Transportation Security Administration.

We filed our opposition to the government’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit on Feb. 5, 2021, and we are still waiting for the court to decide the issue. 

As our case proceeded, several other lawsuits were filed seeking hazard pay for exposure to COVID-19 for certain groups of federal employees. In one of those cases, the judge dismissed the case. The attorney in that case is appealing the dismissal to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The government has moved to stay our case until that appeal is decided.

We opposed the government’s attempt to pause proceedings in the case so that we can move to certify class and collective actions on behalf of all similarly situated federal employees. As of this writing, the judge has not ruled on our opposition to stay the case. 

We continue to hear from federal employees across the country who have been exposed to the coronavirus without proper protection and without proper compensation, and we will keep members updated as we await a decision from the judge on both of these issues.

We always knew this was going to be a tough fight, and that it could be a lengthy fight. But we know it’s a fight worth having – one that workers should win. AFGE is committed to continuing to fight to assure that eligible federal employees are compensated for the risks they face of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. 


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