Unpaid federal employees still at work have a right to sue, KC attorney says

Kara Marxer
January 22, 2019 - 6:45 am

© Hannah Gaber-USA TODAY

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As of Tuesday, the partial federal government shutdown has been going on for one month, with no paychecks for furloughed employees.

The shutdown has a lot of people wondering if it is legal to require employees to work without compensation.

The federal government is definitely breaking the law by requiring people to work and not paying them, said Jim Holland, employment attorney with Fisher and Phillips in Kansas City.

"The government not paying its employees is a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act," Holland said.

So what recourse do federal workers have? They can sue the government.

"There are actually lawsuits out there from the current shutdown as well as from the 2013 shutdown, where the government's been held liable for violating the FLSA and having to pay the employees damages as a result of that," Holland said.

Ultimately, taxpayers will end up footing the bill, not only for back pay, but also for legal fees and whatever damages the employees are awarded by judges.
 

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