(CN) – The largest federal employee union claims in court that President Donald Trump is unlawfully restricting the amount of time government workers can devote to union activity.
In a federal lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday evening, the American Federal of Government Employees says an executive order signed by the president over the Memorial Day weekend both violates the First Amendment and exceeds his authority.
The complaint challenges an order Trump signed limiting the amount of time federal employees who also happen to be union officials can spend helping members appeal disciplinary actions taken against them or file claims of unfair labor practices.
The union contends the order, which limits union activity to 25 percent of the employee’s working hours, is a patently unlawful change to the Civil Service Report Act.
“Without any valid justification, [the order] singles out labor organizations and their representatives for disparate, negative treatment as compared to other individuals,” the complaint says, adding that “[i]n doing so, the Official Time Order restrains and retaliates against AFGE and its union-member employee representatives in and for the exercise of their respective rights to expressive association.”
A representative of the White House did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
But the Brookings Institution assailed the presidential action, saying that in “one fell swoop … President Trump limited federal union representatives to no more than 25 percent of their time assisting colleagues with filing grievances, addressing sexual harassment claims, and resolving workplace problems.
“For a president who has been the object of numerous grievance complaints and sexual harassment claims, the hypocrisy of limiting time to pursue such claims is shocking,” the organization said.