The federal government’s shutdown is now the longest in history – spanning almost one month. Many federal government employees have been working without pay – while others remain unpaid and out of work completely. Air traffic controller employees recently filed suit against the federal government seeking a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) for depriving them their salary without due process as well as lost wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) because of the government’s non-payment. Employees from the Parks and IRS have also filed suit alleging similar causes of action.
On Tuesday, the federal court denied the TRO – holding that it empathized with the employees’ position however did not believe it was within its purview to order payment. The court emphasized that the request for payment fell within Congress’ – rather than the courts’—authority.
The employees’ case requesting preliminary injunctions surrounding nonpayment will be heard later this month. Employers and government contractors should keep an eye on this and related decisions to determine how, if at all, the courts may play a role in ending the shutdown.
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