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WVU Law professor predicts legal shutdown showdown as unrest grows among government workers

WVPA NOTE: WVU Today is offering the information below to WVPA newspapers to help localize and strengthen coverage of the federal government shutdown. Professor Lofaso is also available for interviews and additional comments:


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Anne Lofaso, a West Virginia University professor who specializes in labor law, believes the partial government shutdown violates the 5th and 13th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution because many employees are being compelled to work without pay.

Professor Anne Marie Lofaso

Anne Marie Lofaso
Arthur B. Hodges Professor of Law, WVU College of Law
304.293.7356; [email protected]

“The National Air Traffic Controllers Association has sued the Trump Administration for injunctive relief and damages for failing to pay air traffic controllers during the government shutdown. The Trump Administration has declared these workers essential. That means that these employees must work without any expectation for pay during the government shutdown. The lawsuit, if successful, would find that the Trump Administration has violated the Fifth Amendment by failing to pay workers without due process; would enjoin the government from continuing to refuse to pay them; and would award each worker affected backpay, damages, attorneys fees and the cost of the litigation.”

“The lawsuit also claims that the Trump Administration has violated minimum wage laws by not timely paying these workers at least minimum wage for hours worked.”

“Although not alleged, I would like to see the union amend its complaint to add a Thirteenth Amendment claim because the government currently expects these employees to work without pay. While the Administration might argue that these employees are not in a state of involuntary servitude because they can simply quit their job, the decision to quit is a Hobson’s choice between working without pay or not working and quitting a secure job with excellent benefits for the possibility of finding a job with equivalent wages and benefits.”

West Virginia University experts can provide commentary, insights and opinions on various news topics. Search for an expert by name, title, area of expertise, or college/school/department in the Experts Database at WVU Today.

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