NTEU Asks Federal Court to Immediately Halt Government Shutdown

Press Release January 14, 2019

Washington D.C. – The National Treasury Employees Union has asked a federal judge to immediately stop the federal government from continuing to require employees to work without pay.

NTEU’s request, filed late Sunday, will be heard in court Tuesday in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

“This case is simple. If employees are working, they have to paid. If there is no money to pay them, then they should not be working,” said NTEU National President Tony Reardon. “The shutdown, now in its fourth week, has become downright untenable for tens of thousands of employees who have no way to pay for their basic living expenses. We’ve asked our elected officials to end this disaster. Now we are asking a federal judge.”

The hearing is related to NTEU’s lawsuit, filed last week, challenging the constitutionality of the Antideficiency Act, which agencies rely on to require excepted employees to work during a government shutdown.  The claim challenges the ability of the executive branch to spend money that has not been appropriated by Congress, which is what happens when certain employees are ordered to work only to be paid after the shutdown ends.

NTEU’s lawsuit also alleges that the Antideficiency Act violates the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution. It also argues that even if the Antideficiency Act is constitutional, the Office of Management and Budget directive that authorizes federal agencies to except employees is inconsistent with the Antideficiency Act. That directive has illegally authorized agencies to designate broad swaths of employees as excepted employees, which is at odds with the narrower language in the Antideficiency Act.

NTEU represents thousands of IRS employees, for example, who are expected to be called back to work to process tax refunds, an important task but one that does not normally fall under the law’s exceptions allowing employees to work if their job is related to protecting human life and property.

NTEU has a separate case also pending that alleges the government violates the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying employees for their work on their regular paydays.

NTEU-represented agencies affected by the lapse in appropriations include: IRS, Customs and Border Protection, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Communications Commission, Food and Drug Administration, Federal Election Commission, National Park Service, Patent and Trademark Office, Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The hearing details are:

Tuesday, Jan. 15 at noon

U.S. District Court
Courtroom of Senior Judge Richard J. Leon
333 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC

 NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments.