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.