The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) on Jan. 11 filed suit against the US government, alleging its members are being unlawfully deprived of wages because of the partial government shutdown that began three weeks ago.

The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, also alleges violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act for the government’s failure to pay at least the minimum wage to controllers and other NATCA members who are working without pay. The union has requested an expedited hearing on its motion for a temporary restraining order against the government.

Controllers, traffic management coordinators and other “excepted” FAA employees remain working, despite receiving first paychecks containing no money since the shutdown started on Dec. 22, 2018. Another 3,000 employees NATCA represents are sidelined at home on furlough.

The lapse in federal funding also has caused the FAA to suspend training at its air traffic control academy in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

NATCA members held a rally on the grounds of the US Capitol in Washington DC on Jan. 10, calling for an immediate end to the shutdown. They were joined by members of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists union and supported by organizations representing airlines, airports, pilots, flight attendants and the unmanned aircraft systems industry.

The lawsuit names as defendants President Donald Trump, acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell, acting director of the Office of Personnel Management Margaret Weichert, director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney and acting Interior Department Secretary David Bernhardt.

Bill Carey, bill.carey@aviationweek.com