Readers in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, and other cities across the U.S., likely recall the recent shutdown of the United States federal government. During the shutdown, some federal workers were put on furlough, while others had to continue working but wait to be paid. This left many employees scrambling to pay their bills and provide for their families.
As a result, a group of five workers with the Bureau of Prisons has reportedly filed a lawsuit against the federal government for allegedly violating the Fair Labor Standards Act during the shutdown. According to reports, the employees claimed in their lawsuit that because they had to wait to be paid for their work during the first week of October, they were paid less than minimum wage for that pay period. Some workers also reportedly had to wait to be paid for overtime they worked during the course of the shutdown. Legal representation for the employees purportedly argued that this was an example of the federal government not holding itself as an employer to the same employment law standards that it holds other employers in the private sector to.
There were no indications as the to the amount of damages or other requests that may have been included in the lawsuit. Other federal employees who found themselves in similar situations could reportedly be added as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Regardless of whether you work for the federal government and were, like these workers, affected by the shutdown, or if you work for another employer whom you feel has violated your employee rights, you may find it of benefit to consult with a lawyer. An attorney can explain your options and answer any questions that you may have.
Source: Huffington Post, “Federal Workers Sue Government For Withholding Pay During Shutdown,” Dave Jamieson, Nov. 1, 2013