Federal workers invited to sue over shutdown

Hundreds of thousands of federal employees who had to work during the 2013 government shutdown will soon receive a notice that will allow them to join a lawsuit that could lead to financial compensation.

The government will send the notices on Monday to federal workers who were deemed “essential” during the shutdown. The notices will say those workers can join a lawsuit, filed by law firm Mehri & Skalet, against the government.

The court-approved notice comes after a U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge decided in October that all affected workers should be informed of their right to join the lawsuit. 

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Last August, the judge found that the federal government violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying workers on time due to the shutdown.  

The judge has not yet decided whether the affected employees are entitled to “statutory liquidated damages.” If that is approved, workers won’t be able to receive compensation unless they join the lawsuit.

The workers who initiated the lawsuit say the government didn’t adequately pay about 1.3 million "essential" employees who were required to work during the shutdown. Their two-week pay period overlapped with the first five days of the shutdown. The workers were eventually paid for those days once the shutdown ended and Congress approved retroactive pay.

The notice comes after Congress this week narrowly avoided a shutdown at the Department of Homeland Security.