Eric Katz | November 25, 2014 | 0 Comments

Nearly 1 Million Feds Will Soon Be Notified of Their Right to Join Shutdown Lawsuit

Flickr user Mount Rainier National Park

Most federal employees are focusing their shutdown consciousness on what lies ahead.

The current continuing resolution will expire Dec. 11, and Congress has yet to lay out a plan to avoid a lapse in appropriations.                

Some feds, however, are still looking back. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees will soon receive notification of their eligibility to join a lawsuit that hopes to bring financial compensation to those forced to work during the 2013 government shutdown.

A federal judge ruled in August the government violated federal labor laws when it delayed payments to employees when agencies shuttered their doors last October. The suit was originally brought by five Bureau of Prisons employees seeking damages after they were forced to work for two weeks during the shutdown but did not receive their full paychecks until after agencies reopened.

More than 2,000 employees have since signed onto the collective-action case, but that number could soon skyrocket. When the federal judge in August denied the government’s motion to dismiss the case, it gave Uncle Sam time to prove it should not be held liable for notifying all shutdown-excepted feds of their right to join the suit.

The judge, however, decided the notifications must be sent out by email or other means in early 2015. About 1.3 million employees were forced to work during the shutdown, but an attorney with Mehri & Skalet, the law firm representing the employees, was not yet sure of the exact number of workers that will receive the notification of eligibility. Employees must affirmatively sign up to join the lawsuit in order to receive any potential benefits.

Most eligible employees will receive the notification on their government emails. The law firm is still finalizing the list of recipients with the government, Heidi Burakiewicz, an attorney at Mehri & Skalet said. Employees will have 105 days from the time they receive the notification to sign on to the suit.

“The vast majority of employees don’t even know the case exists and once they hear about it they will definitely be interested in joining,” Burakiewicz said. “There is nothing to lose by signing up.”

Mehri & Skalet argued during initial proceedings that federal employees incurred damages because the delayed paychecks left them unable to pay bills and medical expenses. The government unsuccessfully contended during oral arguments any late fees incurred by federal workers during the shutdown were made due to “poor financial management decisions.”

While U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith sided largely with the plaintiffs, she has not yet ruled on whether they are entitled to “liquidated damages,” or financial compensation, from the federal government.

The case is currently in the discovery phase, which will end May 25. The plaintiffs plan to file for a summary judgment one month after it ends, and expect a decision on liquidated damages at some point thereafter.

Plaintiffs are seeking compensation of $7.25 -- the federal minimum wage -- times the number of hours worked between Oct. 1 and Oct. 5, the period in which paychecks were delayed. This amounts to $290 for employees who worked 8-hour days, plus any overtime they are due.

Unlike furloughed workers, employees who reported to work during the shutdown were guaranteed retroactive pay. However, the plaintiffs in Martin et. al. v. The United States argue because the excepted workers faced hardships during the shutdown, such as an inability to pay bills on time, they should receive extra compensation.

(Image via Flickr user Mount Rainier National Park)


Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.