In a victory for federal workers who had to work without pay for 35 days during the longest government shutdown in history in 2018 and 2019, a federal judge Dec. 1 denied the government’s claim that it did not have an obligation to timely pay employees because of the Anti-Deficiency Act.
But U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith will not rule on whether the employees are entitled to liquidated damages until after discovery is completed. Given a prior ruling that the government did not act in good faith and was liable for liquidated damages during the 2013 shutdown, we are optimistic that the judge will also rule in our favor on this issue.
“We are pleased with the decision denying the motion to dismiss and allowing the lawsuit to go forward,” said AFGE President Everett Kelley. “The federal workforce has had enough. Our members put their lives on the line to keep our country safe and requiring them to work without pay is nothing short of inhumane.”
“Positions that are considered ‘essential’ during a government shutdown are some of the most dangerous jobs in the federal government, including front-line public safety positions in law enforcement, among many other roles,” Kelley added.
“This ruling is a gigantic step towards recovering liquidated damages for the hardworking federal employees who were forced to work without pay during the shutdown,” said Heidi Burakiewicz from the law firm Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman & Fitch, which, in conjunction with AFGE, filed the lawsuit against the United States on behalf of federal employees who were forced to work without pay.
Even though the employees were eventually paid, we believe that employees are entitled to damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act for the untimely pay and hardship they endured during the shutdown brought on by Trump’s demand that Congress provide $5 billion to fund the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
“We calculate that employees damages are $1,1,60 plus the full value of overtime worked,” Burakiewicz added. “These liquidated damages are meant to compensate employees for the tremendous hardship they incurred while struggling to pay their bills and take care of their families while continuing to work under often strenuous and dangerous circumstances.”
Federal employees who worked during the 35-day shutdown have until Dec. 20 to join the lawsuit. We have extended the deadline to allow the maximum number of eligible employees. Employees who fail to sign up may not be eligible to receive damages.
To join the lawsuit, click here.
For more information, click here.