The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on behalf of five Federal employees who seek to earn hazardous pay bumps of 25 percent due to exposure to the coronavirus while on the job.
Two of the plaintiffs work in roles for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), while three work in some capacity with the Bureau of Prisons at the Department of Justice (DoJ). The employees “have performed work with or in close proximity to objects, surfaces, and/or individuals infected with the novel coronavirus,” the suit says. AFGE stated that one of the plaintiffs is a correctional officer who transported a prisoner infected with COVID-19, and that 19 inmates and four staff of that same prison tested positive for COVID-19 as of March 27.
“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,” AFGE National President Everett Kelley said in a press release.
The lawsuit states that, according to Federal regulations, agencies must provide a 25 percent pay differential “when employees perform work with or in close proximity to ‘virulent biologicals’” defined as: “materials or micro-organic nature which when introduced into the body are likely to cause serious disease or fatality and for which protective devices to not afford complete protection.”