One of the most common complaints we hear from employers is that it is almost impossible to get everything right under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Fear not, private employers, you are not alone in your confusion.

The Court of Federal Claims recently ruled that the Federal government violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) when it shut down last year and altered the way it compensated its employees.

In October 2013 the government required certain employees to work during the 16-day shutdown, but delayed payments to those employees until after the shutdown was over. The FLSA, however, requires that employees be paid for all hours worked on their regularly scheduled pay days.

About 2,000 federal workers have currently joined the lawsuit, but the law firm representing them estimates that as many as 1.3 million employees are eligible to join.  Liability under the FLSA is typically double damages plus attorney fees, so the taxpayers are looking to foot a pretty big bill.  Multiple plaintiffs and huge liability are not uncommon for FLSA lawsuits, so private employers should also beware!