Lawsuit: Feds Can't Force Work During Shutdown

Friday, Apr 8, 2011  |  Updated 3:15 PM EDT
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There are two ways to look at things if you're a federal employee whose job has been dubbed "essential" for the potential government shutdown.

On one hand, you're probably excited to know that you're job is "essential" to keeping our country going.  But on the other hand, you may have realized you could be working for no pay.

Well, with that in mind a lawsuit filed by the nation's largest federal employee union says forcing some federal employees to work without pay during a government shutdown violates the U.S. Constitution.

The American Federation of Government Employees's lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent the Obama administration from requiring essential employees to keep working if a shutdown
occurs.

The lawsuit says requiring work without pay violates language in the Constitution that prohibits the government from committing to spend money that has not yet been approved by Congress.

It also claims forcing employees to work without pay violates the prohibition on involuntary servitude. It says there's no guarantee Congress will pay those employees once a shutdown ends.

Congress and the White House face a deadline of midnight Friday to agree on funding to keep the government open.

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