Back Pay Awarded For 2013 Government Shutdown

Feb 28, 2017

Federal employee getting backpay


The government must compensate 25,000 federal employees for damages they incurred during the 2013 shutdown. U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith ordered compensation to those who signed onto the collective action lawsuit against the government, alleging a violation of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act.

Legal Background and Acts in Question

There were two laws in question, in this case, the FLSA and the Anti-Deficiency Act (ADA). The ADA blocks the government from spending money when “specific appropriations aren’t in place”. The FLSA established minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting full and part-time workers in the private sector and in federal, state, and local governments.

The shutdown meant a furlough of all but essential employees who are required to work to “protect the safety of human life or property”. More than 200,000 employees who were forced to work during the shutdown because their salaries were paid from non-annually appropriated accounts, or because their jobs protected life or property, were eligible to join the case.

Terms of Compensation

Their pay was guaranteed; however, they didn’t receive it until the shutdown concluded 16 days later.

The exact damages for each of the 25,000 plus employees will vary. Plaintiffs will receive $7.25-the federal minimum wage-times the number of hours worked between October 1-5, 2013. This amounts to $290 for employees who worked 8 hour days plus any overtime they are due. The amount due to each employee must be calculated by March 17, 2017, and final numbers must be sent by April 7th.

Court documents stated, “the conflict, in this case, arises from the intersection of these ADA provisions with the FLSA. Plaintiffs worked during the first week of the 2013 shutdown, specifically between October 1-5, 2013, but weren’t paid for this work on their regularly scheduled paydays because the government understood the ADA to prohibit payment until funds were appropriated for that purpose.”

The judge also looked at whether the government acted in good faith when it came to balancing payment and shutdown requirements.

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