Bureau of Prison Employees Launch Class Action Suit Against Shutdown

When the government shut down on Dec. 22, not all federal employees were sent home from work. Nearly 400,000 federal workers deemed “excepted employees” must continue working without pay. On Monday, two Bureau of Prisons employees filed a class action law suit against the Trump administration claiming the administration violated federal labor laws by not paying certain employees who remain working during the shutdown.

The complaint filed in the Court of Federal Claims argues that plaintiff Justin Tarovisky performed work during at least one day of the pay period falling within the government shutdown. Plaintiff Grayson Sharp also worked during this pay period, including overtime work. Both failed to be compensated for their time.

The plaintiffs argue that working without pay violates the Fair Labor Standards Act which requires all workers, including government employees, be paid at least minimum wage for their time.

The American Federation of Government Employees, who joined D.C. law firm Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman & Fitch in handling the case, explained in a press release, “The Bureau of Prisons (BOP), and the high security penitentiaries where the named plaintiffs work, USP Hazelton and USP Canaan, are egregiously understaffed, often requiring employees to work large amounts of overtime in some of the most dangerous prisons in the country. USP Hazelton has been the site of three inmate murders in less than seven months. The shutdown and conditions under which the federal government is requiring these employees and others to work puts lives at risk and endangers our communities.”

Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman & Fitch handled a similar case in 2013 which resulted in employees affected by the government shutdown receiving twice their back pay.

FEDagent will be following this case closely and reporting on future developments.

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