Daily Labor Report®

Trump Can’t Be Sued Anonymously by Workers Over Shutdown (1)

Jan. 11, 2019, 4:27 PMUpdated: Jan. 11, 2019, 6:15 PM

Federal employees who are being forced to work without pay during the government shutdown can’t use pseudonyms to sue the president, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said Jan. 10.

The public’s interest in having open judicial proceedings outweighs the employees’ speculative fear from reprisal, retaliation, and physical harm, the opinion by Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell said.

Michael Kator, one of the lead attorneys representing the workers, told Bloomberg Law that they would be continuing with the case

“We’re going to go forward,” said Kator of Kator Parks Weioser & Harris. “The names of the actual plaintiffs, the lineup, will change a little. I don’t know that the claims will change any.”

Some of the plaintiffs not willing to be named will be dropped from the suit and others will be added, according to Kator. He said that a new complaint with named plaintiffs will likely be filed Jan. 11.

The employees work for the Departments of Transportation, Justice, Agriculture, and Homeland Security. Their suit alleges involuntary servitude and violations of their Fifth Amendment rights.

The plaintiffs’ fears of reprisal are more akin to a desire to avoid the annoyance of criticism that may come with the litigation, the court said. They also offered no evidence that they will be subject to retaliation or physical danger beyond that inherent in their jobs as a result of the suit, it said.

Questions of fact may require identifying the plaintiffs, and other federal suits challenging the shutdown are being litigated using the plaintiffs’ real names, the court also said.

The case is Doe v. Trump, D.D.C., No. 19-51, 1/10/19.

(Updated to include comment from plaintiffs' attorney.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Bernie Pazanowski in Washington at bpazanowski@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Wallender in Washington at awallender@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; Jay-Anne B. Casuga at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com

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