Note: This is part of a series of posts detailing the 2009 Pennsylvania budget impasse. To see all posts in this series, click here.
If you are a state employee whose paycheck is short due to the budget impasse, you should contact the US Department of Labor immediately and file a complaint. They can be reached at 570-826-6316 (Wilkes-Barre), 215-597-4950 (Philadelphia), or 412-395-4996 (Pittsburgh). I suggest not calling during your scheduled working hours. Either take personal time to file your complaint or, if that’s not possible, do so on your lunch break or before or after work.
Judicial interpretation of the Fair Labor Standards Act says that you must be paid in full on your regular payday. Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority (49 U.S. 528 (1985)) established that government employees are covered under the FLSA. And contrary to what the Rendell administration (and AFSCME) are saying, the Court did not say that the state constitution overrules federal law (read the decision for yourself right here).
I can not say for certain whether or not filing a claim through the US DOL forfeits any claim you may have to liquidated damages. That is a subject that you should discuss with a competent lawyer. However, it is my understanding that because of the 10th Amendment, no individual may bring a civil suit against the state anyway, so I believe the US DOL is your only option.
Be careful not to confuse the PA Department of Labor & Industry with the US Department of Labor. The PA DL&I can not handle your claim; only the US DOL can. I am fairly certain that the PA Wage Payment & Collection Act does not apply to employees of the commonwealth.
Good luck. Please feel free to comment below (I recommend against posting your last name or work email address) and let us know how your complaint went. In the meantime, keep hammering away at your legislators and governor for a budget.