The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government alleging that NATCA members had been “unlawfully deprived […] of their earned wages without due process” as a result of the partial government shutdown that began on Dec. 22. A hearing has been scheduled for Monday in District Court in Washington. The suit also alleges that the federal government violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by a “failure to pay at least the minimum wage to air traffic controllers and other NATCA members” and “[failure] to promptly pay overtime.”
Controllers and other federal employees were due to receive their checks for the first pay period of 2019 on Friday, the day the lawsuit (PDF) was filed. NATCA has requested an expedited hearing (PDF), asking that its case be heard before funding for the United States Courts lapses on Jan. 18 and citing harm caused to its members who are excepted from furlough and currently working without pay. According to NATCA, it represents nearly 20,000 air traffic controllers, engineers, and other aviation safety-related professionals.
As previously reported on AVweb, NATCA and other aviation associations have been calling attention to the strain the shutdown has placed on the industry, pointing to issues such as disruptions to training and testing for aviation professionals, federal employees working without pay, and a lack of resources to investigate some aircraft accidents. On Thursday, a group of organizations including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Airlines for America, Commercial Drone Alliance, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association and Helicopter Association International sent a letter (PDF) to the president and congressional leaders calling for a resolution to these and other shutdown-related issues facing the industry.