On July 31, 2014, in Martin, Jr. et al. v. the United States, No. 13-834C, (July 31, 2014), the U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled that a class of plaintiffs had stated a claim for violations of minimum wage law and overtime provisions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).The case involves a class of government workers, most of whom were GS-4 and GS-5 employees, who were forced to work during the 2013 government shutdown, but were not paid timely minimum wages and overtime wages on their regularly scheduled paydays for the work performed.The class of plaintiffs brought the claim under the FLSA, claiming liquidated damages for each violation.
The partial shutdown lasted from October 1-16, 2013, and in order to maintain essential government functions, the government designated some employees as “excepted” employees who were required to continue their normal duties.These excepted employees were not compensated for work performed on or after October 1 until the partial shutdown ended and their next scheduled payday occurred.Specifically, compensation for work performed by these employees commencing October 1 through October 5 was not included in each employee’s regular paycheck, and thus, the plaintiffs alleged that they were given an underpayment for that pay period, and were not paid minimum wage for the week of September 29, 2013.The plaintiffs also alleged that those plaintiffs who were classified as FLSA non-exempt were not paid overtime compensation on time for work performed during the five days.
The government filed a motion to dismiss, arguing to the court that the plaintiffs did not make a claim for which the court would be able to grant relief.The court, in its denial of the government’s motion, stated that the issue was whether the plaintiffs could recover under FLSA for a short delay in payment of their wages.The court then cited the “usual rule” for a missed regular payday as being applicable to the case.The “usual rule” states that an FLSA claim accrues at the time of a missed regular payday, and a violation occurs at that same time.The court then found that a violation of the FLSA occurred when the plaintiffs were not paid on time.
The court reiterated a bedrock principle of the FLSA which has been backed by the Supreme Court: an employee needs to receive on time payment for work performed.Moreover, timeliness means that an employer pay an employee on the regularly scheduled paydays.
The government is likely to appeal.
* This information is provided by the attorneys at Passman & Kaplan, P.C., a law firm dedicated to the representation of federal employees worldwide. For more information on Passman & Kaplan, P.C., go to http://www.passmanandkaplan.com.
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