Features, Finance, Labor News Briefs, Law and Politics, Municipal Government, New York

Court Can’t Hear Shutdown Suit—Federal Lawyers Furloughed

January 21, 2019

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

NEW YORK, N.Y.—A federal court in Manhattan can’t hear a union lawsuit challenging the legality of the Trump administration’s partial government shutdown—because the Justice Department lawyers representing the administration have been furloughed. “Neither the court nor the attorneys at the Department of Justice has the authority to change the present circumstances,” U.S. Court of Claims Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith wrote on Jan. 15. The suit, filed by the American Federation of Government Employees after the shutdown began on Dec. 22, argues that requiring 420,000 “essential” workers such as Transportation Security Administration agents to work without pay is illegal under federal wage and hour laws. The Justice Department asked the court for a stay because its lawyers, unlike the TSA agents, are among the 380,000 employees furloughed and thus not allowed to work. A federal judge in Washington also denied a request by two other federal workers’ unions for an order to force the government to pay employees who have been kept working, on the grounds that paying them must be enacted by Congress and not the courts. Read more

January 21, 2019

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