Politics Federal workers score legal win over pay halt during 2018-19 shutdown

20:40  01 december  2020
20:40  01 december  2020 Source:   politico.com

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More than 420,000 federal employees would have to work without pay , according to a report from The longest government shutdown occurred during President Bill Clinton's time in office, also over the holidays, and If a shutdown happens, affected federal workers won 't be paid for the week of Dec.

The federal government's failure to pay its workers during the shutdown has caused hardship for many. Economist Joseph Stiglitz tells NPR's Melissa And when that bubble broke, an awful lot of Americans saw their entire life savings going with that. And so that has had a significant effect on the

A federal judge has handed a legal victory to federal employees who didn’t get their paychecks during the recordbreaking, 35-day government shutdown that ran from 2018 into 2019.

a group of people holding a sign: Government workers protest the government shutdown in the Federal Building Plaza on Jan. 10, 2019 in Chicago, Ill. © Scott Olson/Getty Images Government workers protest the government shutdown in the Federal Building Plaza on Jan. 10, 2019 in Chicago, Ill.

In a ruling Tuesday, U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith rejected the Trump administration’s bid to throw out the wage-and-hour lawsuit brought by rank-and-file government workers who were not paid their regular hourly wages and overtime during the protracted shutdown.

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As the partial government shutdown drags on, 420,000 "essential" federal employees are working without pay , something the vast majority of Americans would find extremely difficult. The government shutdown spotlights a bigger issue: 78% of US workers live paycheck to paycheck.

In past shutdowns , employees received back pay after the government was funded. (Some government contractors have been ordered to stop work on But as a share of all workers , federal employees affected by the shutdown are as common in Montana and Alaska as they are in Maryland.

The employees were eventually paid, but the lawsuit contends the workers are entitled to damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the depression-era law that sets minimum wages and mandates overtime for many workers.

The Trump administration argued that there was no violation of the wage-and-hour law because another federal law, the Anti-Deficiency Act, made it a crime to pay the workers during the five-week lapse in appropriations.

However, Campbell-Smith disagreed, concluding that the budget-focused law doesn’t automatically waive the government’s obligations to make timely payments to employees.

The longest shutdown in U.S. history stemmed from an impasse over President Donald Trump’s demand that Congress appropriate more than $5 billion for one of his most high-profile campaign promises: the border wall.

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Some 800,000 federal employees, more than half still on the job, were due to miss their first paycheck Friday under a stoppage that neared a record for the longest government shutdown . By a vote of 411-7, the House passed a bill requiring that all government workers receive retroactive pay after the

Poll shows federal workers don't prefer a border wall to getting paid . President Trump has claimed repeatedly that most federal workers support his tactic of shutting down the government to enforce his demand for a border wall — including those directly affected by it.

Congress ultimately forked over only about $1.6 billion, with restrictions. The shutdown ended when Trump relented on his budget demand, although he employed a series of legally controversial tactics to tap various accounts for billions to press on with wall projects.

Despite the decision Tuesday turning down the government’s motion to dismiss the suit, the workers have not yet prevailed in the case. Campbell-Smith said it was still possible that the government could show that it acted in “good faith” when it failed to pay the workers on time.

“The court declines to rule at this time on the issue of whether defendant can establish a good faith defense against liability for liquidated damages in this case,” the judge wrote.

If the employees do win the suit, they would each be entitled to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour for the time they worked, or about $1,160 if they worked the full shutdown period, plus overtime.

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2018 -2019 during the Donald Trump administration, the longest shutdown in US history,[4] caused by a Shutdowns cause the disruption of government services and programs, including the closure of Initially, many federal agencies continued to operate during shutdowns , while minimizing all

A federal judge on Tuesday denied a request from a federal employees union to require the government to pay air traffic controllers who are currently working without pay during the partial government shutdown .

An attorney for the workers, Heidi Burakiewicz, said about 32,000 workers have already elected to opt-in to the lawsuit. Employees who don’t sign up by this month may lose their rights to compensation, she said.

Burakiewicz said she expected the workers, who work at the Bureau of Prisons, the National Weather Service, Immigration & Customs Enforcement, Customs & Border Protection, the Secret Service, and other agencies, will ultimately win the case.

“For all intents and purposes, this is a finding that the government violated the law, the FLSA,” she said in an interview. “We feel extremely confident.”

While the workers already received the pay they earned, Burakiewicz said she does not view the effort to secure damages for them to be double-dipping.

“Retroactively paying them their wages...does not negate the violation of the law that they were not paid that money on time,” she said. “There was a lot of suffering during those 35 days. People were worried about feeding their kids, paying their bills, buying medicine. It was horrible for them.....Paying people back pay does not make them whole.”

A Justice Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the decision.

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usr: 5
This is interesting!