Furloughed federal workers eligible for state unemployment benefits

Galtero Lara
Enero 18, 2019

Although the government shutdown, which is now the longest in USA history, has reduced the number of FDA routine safety inspections, Azar said that food inspectors at the agency, which is responsible for 80 percent of the nation's food supply, and medical inspectors have been called back to work to ensure that the highest-risk products are safe for consumers.

A federal judge on Tuesday denied a request from a federal employees union to require the government to pay air traffic controllers who are now working without pay during the partial government shutdown.

The judge sympathized with the plaintiffs, but ultimately said he had to weigh the interests of the public as well as federal workers.

While the union recognized that courts are reluctant to grant temporary restraining orders, the District Court left open the possibility for a preliminary injunction in case.

"The judiciary is not another source of leverage", Leon said. The lawsuit also alleges that the Federal Aviation Administration violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying minimum wage to controllers being required to work during the shutdown.

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The second temporary restraining order, requested by individual federal workers in a separate suit, asked that federal employees deemed essential be given the choice of whether to show up to work, so they could take extra work to cover expenses if needed.

The Labor Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The NTEU lawsuit focuses on the 800,000 workers who have continued to operate during the impasse.

The NTEU said in a statement after the ruling that the Internal Revenue Service plans to end furlough for more than half its workforce to prepare for tax season, meaning that up to 46,000 IRS employees could be forced to work without pay during the shutdown. Judge Leon ordered the federal government to file briefs on the question by January 22, while NTEU's are due on January 28.

More furloughed federal workers could apply for unemployment benefits in the weeks ahead.

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