The American Federation of Government Employees filed a lawsuit against several federal agencies on behalf of five federal employees exposed to the COVID-19 coronavirus while performing their duties.
The class action lawsuit names plaintiffs from the Bureau of Prisons, Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Veteran Affairs, but AFGE says that “there are likely thousands of other federal employees who have been exposed to the coronavirus while performing their official duties…”
The suit argues that the plaintiffs who are on the General Schedule pay system are entitled to 25% hazard pay under Title 5 because they were exposed to “hazardous working conditions through the performance of their assigned duties and that the hazardous duty had not been taken into account in the classification of their positions.” AFGE says that the coronavirus would “clearly qualify as a hazard.”
AFGE also said in the suit that Wage Grade employees exposed are entitled to an 8% environmental pay for increased exposure to the virus.
One example that AFGE cited in its press release on the lawsuit was a plaintiff who is a correctional officer. He was told to take an inmate to the hospital but was told that he did not need to wear a mask when doing so. The inmate later tested positive for the coronavirus.
“Each day front-line federal employees willingly risk their health and their families’ health to provide critical services to the American people. It is our hope that the government does right by these employees and pays them the hazardous duty pay they’ve earned,” said AFGE National President Everett Kelley. “I also implore Congress to pass legislation to provide hazardous duty pay to all front-line federal employees not already covered by existing laws like our Nurses in federal prisons, Transportation Security Officers at airports, and health car workers at the VA who provide direct patient care to our nation’s veterans.”
A copy of the complaint is included below.