Federal workers sue for coronavirus ‘hazard pay’

By WND Staff

 

Workers from five federal agencies are suing for “hazard pay” because they must work during the coronavirus pandemic.

The news website Government Executive reports five federal employees and the American Federation of Government Employees filed the lawsuit.

The complaint argues federal workers exposed to the COVID-19 disease through their jobs are owed the extra benefit.

The case, by workers at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, Agriculture Department and Veterans Affairs, is in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

They allege, the report explains, that “by not providing hazard pay to employees who interact with people and materials that could carry the virus, it is violating both federal law and Office of Personnel Management regulations.”

The case contends they are due the federally mandated 25% increase in pay for duty involving “unusual physical hardship or hazard.”

“The schedule of hazardous duty pay differentials set forth in [OPM’s regulations] provides that agencies shall pay a 25% hazard pay differential when employees perform work with or in close proximity to ‘virulent biologicals,’ which are defined as ‘materials of micro-organic nature which when introduced into the body are likely to cause serious disease or fatality and for which protective devices do not afford complete protection,'” the complaint states.

The case charges that the exposure to the threat started on Jan. 27 and continues.

The workers, it contends, “have performed work with or in close proximity to objects, surfaces, and/or individuals infected with COVID-19 without sufficient protective devices.”

A union statement said, “It is our hope that the government does right by these employees and pays them the hazardous duty pay they’ve earned.”

A spokesman added, “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 care workers at the VA who provide direct patient care to our nation’s veterans.”

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