NTEU and FLSA
In January 2019, the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), along with lawyers from the private law firm of Bredhoff & Kaiser, PLLC, filed a lawsuit alleging the administration violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by requiring federal employees to work without pay during the partial government shutdown.
The complaint, as amended, was filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on behalf of the tens of thousands of federal employees in NTEU-represented bargaining units who were required to work, even though their agencies had not received appropriations from Congress.
More than 18,000 employees have joined this lawsuit. Because the statute of limitations window (i.e. deadline for joining) is closing, no additional employees can opt-in.
The FLSA requires that all employees covered by the statute be paid on time for any overtime work performed and be paid at least the minimum wage on time for all hours worked during the workweek.
Legislation was enacted guaranteeing that employees affected by the partial shutdown were paid. In its lawsuit, NTEU asks the Court to order payment of 100 percent liquidated damages to match the amount of any overtime or minimum wages that were not paid on time. The FLSA provides for liquidated damages as a means of compensating employees for the untimely payment of overtime or wages.
Employees were eligible to join the lawsuit if, at the time of the shutdown, they (1) were in any bargaining unit represented by NTEU; (2) were non-exempt (Box 35 of your SF-50 indicates “N”); and (3) worked regular or overtime hours during the shutdown and were not paid on time.
For employees who have joined the lawsuit, note that neither NTEU nor Bredhoff & Kaiser will ask any employee that they represent to pay any attorneys’ fees, either upfront or out of his or her recovery.
You may also be interested in reading the Frequently Asked Questions page for answers to commonly asked questions.