Lawsuit seeks Sunday pay differential for part-timers

A lawsuit filed Wednesday by the labor union that represents employees at the National Weather Service could determine whether all part-time federal employees are entitled to a 25 percent bonus for working on Sunday.

The lawsuit, brought by the National Weather Service Employees Organization, seeks to clarify that four part-time weather forecasters who work on Sunday are entitled to the same 25 percent differential that full-time federal employees receive for Sunday work.

The union filed the suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on behalf of Theodore Fathauer and Laurie Nisbet, lead forecasters in Fairbanks, Alaska, and Robin Fox and Richard Thoman, general forecasters in Spokane, Wash. The Fairbanks and Spokane offices, like each of the weather service's 122 forecast facilities, must be staffed around the clock to issue forecasts and warnings of severe weather.

Since switching to a part-time schedule in 2004, Fathauer has worked about 15 Sundays each year, while Thoman has worked about 22. Fox and Nisbet became part-time forecasters in late 2006 and work Sundays on an occasional basis. The forecasters are seeking lost premium pay for the Sundays they have worked since going to a part-time schedule.

The employees regularly received Sunday premium pay when they were full-time employees, but the National Weather Service stopped the Sunday differential pay when they went to part-time work, in keeping with an Office of Personnel Management regulation that limits the payment of Sunday differentials to full-time employees, said Richard Hirn, general counsel for the union.

Congress approved legislation in 1966 that entitles federal employees on the General Schedule pay system to a 25 percent differential when they are scheduled to work on Sunday. But the law does not make a distinction on eligibility between full-time and part-time employees, Hirn said.

He added that a 1978 law made it clear that Congress wanted to promote opportunities for federal employees to pursue job-sharing or other part-time opportunities. "I am sure Congress did not intend that people engaging in job-sharing should be paid less than people on a full-time schedule," he said. The lawsuit contends that OPM is discriminating against part-time workers by denying them the same premiums granted by law to all federal employees. "I'm optimistic that OPM is going to reconsider their regulations," Hirn said.

OPM declined to comment.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.