Memorandum of Disapproval of Bill for the Relief of D. A. Whitaker and Others.
I HAVE WITHHELD my approval from H. R. 9950, "For the relief of D. A. Whitaker and others."
The bill (H. R. 9950) provides that, notwithstanding any statute of limitations or lapse of time, jurisdiction is conferred upon the Court of Claims to hear, determine, and render judgment upon the claims of D. A. Whitaker and other named employees of the Radford Arsenal, Department of the Army, "for basic and overtime compensation and shift differential pay as governed by the provisions of the federal Employees Pay Act of 1945, as amended," for services performed since 1945 at the Radford Arsenal, Radford, Virginia.
These claims relate to employment as fire fighters or fire-fighter guards between February 15, 1946 and February 16, 1952. The employees worked a 2-platoon system which required that they be on duty every other day for 24 hours, for which they received basic compensation each week for 40 hours and overtime pay for 16 additional hours. The claims involve the rights to overtime pay for the second 8-hour shift worked in one day and for shift differential pay for that work, and also for right to compensation for the third 8-hour shift during the period when the employees were said to be "on call duty."
By the Act of March 3, 1863 (12 Stat. 767) and by repeated enactments thereafter, it has been provided that claims not filed in the Court of Claims within six years from the time the claims accrued shall be barred. These claims pertain to work performed in some cases more than twelve years ago. The claims were not asserted in timely fashion by the claimants and it is no longer feasible or even possible to obtain the records essential to an adequate presentation of the facts to the Court. This is the very kind of situation which proves the wisdom of a statute of limitation. Without it in such cases it is doubtful whether it is possible to have efficient and orderly administration of the affairs of government.
If I were to approve this bill, I could not in all fairness refuse to approve other bills setting aside the statute of limitations on old claims for overtime or other compensation for either individuals or groups of federal personnel who delayed in presenting their claims.
For the foregoing reasons, I have withheld my approval of the bill.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
Note: This memorandum was released at the U. S. Naval Base, Newport, R. I.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Memorandum of Disapproval of Bill for the Relief of D. A. Whitaker and Others. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233985