A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday denied a motion from the National Treasurer Employees Union (NTEU) to force the federal government to pay employees working without pay during the ongoing shutdown.
The motion included statements from two federal workers who are having financial trouble continuing to work since the shutdown. Elizabeth Thigpen said that she is unable to pay for child care for her two year old twins when she goes to work as a Custom and Border Protections officer at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport. Terrance Hebron said that the government shutdown had caused him “serious financial hardship.”
Judge Richard Leon rejected the argument that unpaid work violates the appropriations clause of constitution and labor laws. The case is not over and will continue with a preliminary injunction to be heard on January 31.
The NTEU represents 150,000 employees at 33 federal agencies and departments. President Tony Reardon said regarding filing the motion: “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.”
For now, the federal judge has said no. The government shutdown, now at 25 days, will continue with workers uncompensated.