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Workers at DOL, Other Agencies Join Covid-19 Hazard Pay Lawsuit

July 23, 2020, 4:58 PM

A group of workers at the Department of Labor, Social Security Administration, Federal Grain Inspection Service, and parts of the departments of Defense and Homeland Security is seeking hazard pay, asserting in a newly amended lawsuit that their jobs put them at risk for contracting Covid-19.

The plaintiffs, since Jan. 27, “have performed work with or in close proximity to objects, surfaces, and/or individuals infected with the novel coronavirus,” according to their amended complaint filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The General Schedule pay system provides for a 25% hazard pay differential when federal workers’ jobs put them in danger, the union said.

The revised class action, filed Wednesday, adds new members to a lawsuit first filed in March that sought hazard pay for employees of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the departments of Agriculture and Veterans Affairs.

The complaint, brought by a group of plaintiffs represented by the American Federation of Government Employees and the law firm of Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman & Fitch, cites examples of how the named plaintiffs’ jobs put them in danger of contracting Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

“Only the Defendant’s own records will reveal the actual number of federal employees who performed such work. A class action is the most efficient means for resolution of the claims alleged,” the amended complaint says.

AFGE represents about 700,000 government employees, making it the largest federal union.

The Department of Justice, which is representing the government, in response to the initial lawsuit asked the court for more time to respond to the complaint, and now has until Sept. 23 to do so.

The DOJ didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the amended lawsuit.

The case is Braswell v. U.S., Fed. Cl., No. 20-cv-00359, amended complaint filed 7/22/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Louis C. LaBrecque in Washington at llabrecque@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Martha Mueller Neff at mmuellerneff@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com; Karl Hardy at khardy@bloomberglaw.com

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