Federal employees in a class action lawsuit stemming from the 2013 government shutdown still haven’t all received their settlements for liquidated damages. But they’ll soon get a chance to join a new class action suit against the government for the current shutdown, now heading into its second week.
That’s according to the lawyer behind it all. Heidi Burakiewicz said “absolutely” she will launch another suit. “I hope that the shutdown ends…But if the government can’t open we will certainly file another lawsuit and do anything we can to urge this to stop,” Burakiewicz said.
Burakiewicz, a partner at Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman and Fitch of Washington, D.C. said the 2013 suit went in favor of federal employees because the judge found the government had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). She said the government is still calculating the damages due to the 25,000 employees who are party to the suit.
The Depression-era law requires employers to pay minimum wages and overtime when they’re due. Burakiewicz said courts had already found in favor of employees of state governments who worked without pay during funding lapses.
The 2013 suit was first filed by the firm and Mehri & Skalet, where Burakiewicz worked in 2013. She later joined Kalijarvi. She filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, where it was decided by then-Chief Judge Patricia Elaine Campbell-Smith. In her ruling, Campbell-Smith said even the Anti-Deficiency Act — which prohibits federal spending in anticipation of appropriations — doesn’t cancel the government’s obligation to pay people forced to work during lapses. She also found the government failed to act in good faith when it argued that it believed it was not violating the FLSA.
Liquidated damages means plaintiff get twice their back pay including overtime.