Federal Back Pay Act

by Pamela Parker; Updated September 26, 2017
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The Back Pay Act was created to reimburse federal government employees who were not adequately compensated due to an unjustified action. The objective of this federal law is to restore the employee to the same position he would have been in had the wrongful action by the government not occurred.

Unjustified Action by an Employer

The Back Pay provision applies when an unjustified or unwarranted action is committed by the government against an employee. When a federal employer fails to abide by a law, a regulation or the terms of a collective bargaining agreement, this constitutes an unjustified action. The employee is eligible to receive compensation if damages occurred as a result of the government's conduct or its failure to act in compliance with laws and workplace policies.

Criteria for Awarding Damages

Three findings of fact must be proved by the employee before he can be awarded damages. He must show that he was subjected to a wrongful action by government personnel. As a result of this action, the employee didn't receive the wages she earned during the period marked by the grievous action. If government personnel hadn't behaved in such a manner, the employee would have received the monetary compensation she was entitled to.

Determination of Monetary Compensation

Monetary compensation may be reduced if the employee earned income from outside employment during the time the unwarranted action took place. The government may also be held responsible for the employee’s attorney fees if he hires legal representation.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for a back pay claim against the federal government is two years. It can be extended to three years if the government's unwarranted action is proved to be willful -- government personnel acted with the intention of causing harm to the employee. There must clear factual findings that the federal government acted in a way to show willful disregard of the laws and regulations.

About the Author

Pamela Parker became a freelance writer in 2009. She has worked in bankruptcy law since 2007. She writes extensively on bankruptcy and financial topics, with her work appearing on various websites. Parker has a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Brown University and a Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego School of Law.

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