Federal employee unions filed a lawsuit Friday alleging that the government is violating federal labor laws by requiring employees deemed “essential” to continue working through the partial shutdown without pay.
The lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., was brought by the National Federation of Federal Employees, the National Association of Government Employees SEIU, the National Weather Service Employees Organization and the law firm Snider & Associates on behalf of federal workers.
The 19-page complaint accuses the federal government of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying workers overtime and minimum wage.
The National Federation of Federal Employees said the law requires all employees covered by the statute to be paid on time for any overtime work performed and to be paid at least the minimum wage for all hours worked during the workweek.
“In this country, when a worker performs a day’s work, he or she is entitled to a day’s worth of compensation,” NFFE National President Randy Erwin said in a statement.
“That is how working people provide for their families. Because of the chaos this wasteful government shutdown is causing, the government is trying to pay people in I.O.U.s. With this lawsuit we’re saying, ‘No, you can’t pay workers with I.O.U.s. That will not work for us.’”
The partial shutdown is poised to become the longest ever in U.S. history on Saturday. The shutdown, which is affecting about 25 percent of the federal government, entered its 21st day on Friday and there is no deal in sight between congressional Democrats and President TrumpDonald John TrumpAnalyst says Trump’s base will support him if he backs off wall funding demand ‘Green Book’ writer apologizes for Islamophobic tweet: ‘I will do better’ Poll finds Trump’s approval rating at 44 percent amid shutdown MORE to reopen the agencies.
Both sides have dug in since the funding lapse started on Dec. 22, with Trump weighing declaring a national emergency to build his proposed wall along the southern border as Democrats continue to refuse providing the more than $5 billion he has demanded as part of a deal to reopen the government.
The unions that filed the lawsuit against the federal government on Friday are asking the court to order the government to pay its workers.
The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has also sued the federal government over the shutdown.