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Federal Employees News Digest : Nov 11, 2013
November 11, 2013 Vol. 63, No. 17 3 Visit us on the Internet at www.FederalDaily.com and their liquidated damages. The last part is because their employer---the federal gov- ernment---failed in its duty to pay employ- ees on time, while our clients---the employ- ees---fulfilled their duties by showing up to work and doing their jobs, as the American people expect of them. So, your firm argues that the law says the government must pay employees, even "essential" employees, on time--- including providing overtime---through- out the shutdown? Mehri: Yes. The federal government made the effort for the military, but not for these 1.3 million employees. Again, federal law says you can't require people to work and delay paying their salary. This is the position of the Department of Labor, regarding private employers and public employers. All we're asking is that the federal government do as the [law and DOL] demand: pay your people on time. They must know if you don't pay people on time, well, most people live paycheck to paycheck, with perhaps a small cush- ion---so if you don't pay on time, there are consequences: not being able to pay the mortgage, or keep the lights on, or get needed medicine. That's why back in 1938, as a deterrent, labor laws were passed to say there's a consequence for doing this kind of thing. And remember, even now, on the horizon there is yet another shut- down. Do you expect this lawsuit to grow? Mehri: Absolutely. It will grow like wild- fire among essential federal employees, all over the country. Most of those contacting us are doing so as a matter of principle. They're standing up for themselves since no one else will, so they're sending in their [claim] forms to my office. If we succeed, our clients will get some small but real compensation here---but the main reason people are sending their forms in is they continued from page 1 Don’t miss our discussion of weekly news topics. Discuss these stories and more with your fellow federal workers at www.FederalSoup.com. continued on page 4 don't want this to happen again. They see that if they're doing their duty to serve this country, and those who are derelict in that by not dealing with these budget issues, they need to know that the federal employees will stand up. Is the lawsuit mainly aimed at ensuring feds get paid for their trouble now and during any future shutdown---or are you mainly seeking damages actually to deter Congress from creating a next shutdown? Mehri: It's really mainly the first. The rest of that question is about bigger issues than what we can handle here. Our case really is a reminder that in addition to the military, there are over a million essential federal employees. So, if you're going to mandate that they have to turn up to work, there's something fundamentally wrong with that [if they don't get paid.] The Capitol Police officers who were in that recent incident with the woman who [rammed her car into a protective bar- ricade] during the shutdown? Those offi- cers were protecting the Capitol from what might have been a terrorist attack, while working unpaid. The shutdown lasted more than two weeks---why are you seeking only four days involving overtime pay in your law- suit? Mehri: We're seeking compensation as regards those four days, because that's a result of our work making sure our complaint is as precise and as accurate to the law as possible. [Editor's note: Specific details are explained at http://shutdown- lawsuit.com.] As for the amounts of money involved, we're going to defer on saying that exact amount—we cannot say right now. No one of the 1.3 million will get rich from this case, but they should get a little bit for the anguish they went through, the credit card penalties they might have to pay, and for [potentially costly changes] to their credit score. But, again, I think the flood of people we're seeing here is because people want to stand up for them- selves, on principle. The lead plaintiffs are a group of Bureau of Prisons officers---why? Mehri: The plaintiffs here are federal prison officers because employees in that field retained us in the past, and so our firm is a known quantity to those work- ers, and they know we'll do a good job for them. These people risk their lives every day---the prisons they work in house mur- derers, terrorists and so forth. Remember, the officers are our lead plaintiffs, but the case is for all essential federal employees who had to work during the shutdown. What's the timeline on this case? Mehri: All cases like this take some time, but meanwhile they raise consciousness of the issue. There's another shutdown that threatens soon. What should you do if you're reading this and you're one of the 1.3 million affected employees? Mehri: If you were an essential employ- ee who worked through the shutdown, it's important that you get those forms in--- you can't benefit if you don't get the forms in. For more information on the case go to www.shutdownlawsuit.com. Special Counsel finds DHS overtime abuse The Office of Special Counsel has veri- fied allegations that many employees at
Nov 4, 2013
Nov 18, 2013