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Hey Guys,

A year or so ago, there was a post on here, regarding a case (I believe it was Brockton, but could be wrong) who won a case against the city, which found that it was unlawful to deny their members compensatory time off, which was owed to them, unless it proved to be unduly disruptive to the operations of the department. It also clearly stated that hiring overtime, did not constitute an undue disruption.
Anybody have the link to this case? Know the name? Anything of that sort? I can't seem to find it. If anyone can come up with it, it'd be pretty helpful to our present situation.

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Federal Court Rules: Cop Comp. Time Shall Not Be Denied On The Basis Of Minimum Staffing Alone
District Court Judge Myron Gordan ruled on September 26, 2000, in a hotly contested case that the Milwaukee Police Department may not refuse police officer requests to use their accrued comp time off on the basis of pre-set minimum staffing levels.
The victory by 1,436 Milwaukee Police Officers, led by Milwaukee Police Association President Bradley DeBraska, establishes that officers with accumulated compensatory banks must be allowed to take that time off at their discretion unless a police department can show that time off requested, if granted when requested, would "unduly disrupt" specific police service.
Judge Gordan found that a system which allows officers access to the stored compensatory time based on pre-established minimum staffing levels is illegal under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, unless a police department can show that it has attempted to have the officer replaced by another officer even if the Department must pay time and half premium pay to attract a replacement.
The case interprets a 1985 Amendment to the federal wage and hour law which permits public safety employers to pay for overtime with time off in lieu of cash provided certain conditions are met. Judge Gordan reviewed a compensatory system in Milwaukee in which timely filed requests to use accrued compensatory time were denied if granting the time off would bring the officer's unit below pre-established minimum staffing levels .
The complaining police officers argued that the Police Department could not deny their requests for time off without first offering time and one half overtime pay to replacements and searching for a replacement officer. The United States Department of Labor agreed with the officers and filed a brief supporting their position.
The litigation has been years in the courts and involved an earlier appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit when the City of Milwaukee sought to have the litigation blocked on the basis of an earlier FLSA settlement which also involved the Police Association. The Seventh Circuit rejected that argument and ordered the Milwaukee District Court to move forward with the case. The Milwaukee officers have now established that comp time systems which block time off on the basis of minimum staffing alone violate federal law.

The officers' attorney Michael Leibig, General Counsel to the International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO, stated:
The decision is the first in what we hope will be a long line of court decisions to establish a federally protected right of police officers to freely use their compensatory time off. Judge Gordan ruled clearly that a recent Supreme Court decision in Christensen v. Harris Co., which found that employer forced comp time off was permissible, did not give employers discretion to deny compensatory time off when replacement officers are available at premium time and a half overtime rates.
The decision gives officers who have worked for and earned compensatory time a right to use that time off when they wish to take the time off. Milwaukee argued that an employer could control the use of comp time off through a system of minimum staffing levels and a refusal to pay overtime to another officer willing to work as a replacement. The decision significantly increases officer rights to use their stored time off when they wish to use it.
The decision, entitled DeBraska v, Milwaukee, is likely to have a national impact. Suits challenging the rejection of requests to time off on the basis of minimum staffing alone are currently before or about to be brought before other federal courts in Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, Texas, California, and Puerto Rico. The next likely ruling involves a case Canney v. Brookline which awaits decision before the federal district court in Boston.
The Debraska case now moves forward to judicial consideration of the remedy owed Milwaukee working police officers which should be completed within a few months. Sam Cabral, President of the International Union of Police Association explained:
This decision is part of our effort to gain for the nation's working police officers some measure of control over their own time off. Policing is a difficult

stress-filled job. The IUPA pressed for the 1985 Public Employee Amendments provision on comp time precisely to gain additional scheduling flexibility for working police officers. We also hope that the realization of the unsettling long hours that police officers work will prompt law enforcement agencies to hire sufficient officers to eliminate any need for police to work long hours without a chance to schedule some time off when they need it. The decision follows closely on our recent victory in similar litigation in Defiance, Ohio. There, the department accepted our suggestion that remedying the problem of long police officer hours lies in adequate staffing. The Department in Defiance increased the number of officers by more than twenty per cent in an IUPA sponsored settlement. We hope for more victories like this. We hope that officers throughout the county will enforce their rights to sensible scheduling of their work.
Massachusetts Federal Court Orders More Freedom, Police Officers To Control Their Own Time Off
Officers of the Brookline, Massachusetts, Police Department won litigation in Federal District Court in Boston establishing that they have a right to use their compensatory time off when they need or want to use it. Judge Morris Laskar ruled following Department of Labor guidance from the recently decided Milwaukee case, DeBraska v. Milwaukee. He ruled that an officer's right to take earned compensatory off when he or she requests to take it off is protected by federal wage and hour law. Such request, if made in a timely manner, must be granted by law enforcement agencies unless the agency can show that granting the time off would prevent the delivery of necessary police services and that the agency has offered to pay substitute officers at premium rates to substitute for the officer making the request.
Brookline Officers Bobby Murphy and John Canney led the suit through their leadership of a local of the International Union of Police Association within the Brookline Department. Canny commented, "This decision is one more victory in our long term plan to generate a work place right for working cops which would allow a more flexible schedule and some measure of control over their own work time."

The Brookline officers were represented IUPA General Counsel Mike Leibig and local counsel Donna Buckley. Buckley explained:
The decision which will give a greater scheduling right to working law enforcement in Brookline sets a precedent which is designed to protect officers throughout the county. It is part of a more general effort to insure that the protections afforded with regard to overtime hours are taken seriously and enforced vigorously. Similar cases involving the Newton, Saugas and Framingham, Massachusetts police departments are moving forward.
International President Sam Cabral of the International Union of Police Associations, the leading organization enforcing the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act in law enforcement, reported:
This decision follows a recent similar decision generated by the Milwaukee Police Association. The two decisions taken together establish that police officers can and should take control of the use of the compensatory time which they work so hard to earn. IUPA intends to do everything which we can to insure that a scheduling flexibility established in these cases is enforced throughout the county.

Alexandria, VA Police Union Wins Overtime Pay Suit
More than 200 police officers in the Alexandria Coalition of Police filed suit against the Police Department under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act on October 23, 2001 in order to recover overtime pay. The United States District Court for the Eastern District issued a final order from their initial April ruling that the Department had failed to conform to federal requirements concerning overtime pay.
Each of the 202 officers filing suit will now receive more than $1,000 in back pay due them under federal law. In addition, the directive also requires that overtime pay be credited to officers who work beyond their normal shift including work before and after their shift that is repeated on numerous occasions. Such work includes telephone work, responding to off duty calls, aiding in the preparation of cases, and early arrival or late end of duty work.
The ruling also expands an officer's use of accrued compensatory time with the Department required to grant such time off at least 72 hours in advance of the requested time off even if that request is for time and a half. In the past, comp time was primarily granted at Departmental discretion based on minimum staffing levels and, according to the complaint, too often failed to search for replacements or refused to pay the time and a half required by federal law. Under the court's decision, officers now have the right to find their own replacements.
Bob Hickman, President of the Alexandria Coalition of Police said, "The court's ruling is great. The department is finally in compliance with federal law. Police officers work heavy schedules under a lot of stress. This ruling will be a great help in giving officers more control over their personal lives. This will be especially helpful in improving their family lives."
Hickman explained, under the new rule, an officer who wants to meet family commitments can can safely promise a child or spouse that they can attend scheduled events with them, whether it is a school visit, a family outing, or just time at home with them.
Sam Cabral, President of the International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO headquartered in Alexandria, VA applauded the ruling saying, "We are pleased with the outcome (of the suit) which is now the fifth in a line of suits the union has successfully undertaken." In addition to the Alexandria Coalition of Police, the I.U.P.A. represents more than 100,000 law enforcement personnel throughout the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean.

Mike Leibig, counsel to the union explained that the case follows similar national cases in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, California, and North Carolina establishing for the first itme that individual working police officers can use compensatory time to gain some control over their schedules.
"Leibig reinforced the officers's concerns saying, "Work stress and uncontrollable scheduling has historically been one of the most serious problems in police work. Law enforcement professionals have faced serious family, health, and other problems as a result of past scheduling difficulties in which understaffed departments operate by demanding long hours of individual officers. Stress and the unpredictable nature of police work can undermine the effectiveness and judgement of the most dedicated officers. It is in the interest of public safety that these stress factors be reduced where ever possible. The new rules on individual control over access to time off is a major reform in America's protection of its first responders.

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Comp. time can be denied if it causes overtime IF there was a prior agreement between the union an management stating so. The agreement has to be made BEFORE the work is completed. If there is no discussion or agreement regarding the use of comp time, it is looked at like wages; its yours to use as you please. The mistake management usually makes is that they never get an agreement in writing prior to allowing the accumulation of comp time stating that it can only be used if it does not create overtime.

What's screwed up about the whole issue is that comp. time was originally allowed by the FLSA to reduce the burden on local government's budgets caused by excessive overtime. It was viewed as a "win, win" situation. Towns saved money, cops got more time off. The FLSA doesn't address the issue, however, an opinion letter was written by the DOL stating that comp. time could not be denied based on the fact that it caused O.T. Usually what happens is that when departments begin allowing comp. time, its "understood" by everyone that it can't cause O.T. Somewhere down the road, someone gets denied and they file a grievance. The only standard that the FLSA has for use of overtime is that employees have a reasonable opportunity to use the time accrued. I can't recall the city (I believe it was a Sheriff's Dept.)that caused the problem, but essentially, they allowed officers to accrue a ton of comp. and didn't allow anyone to use it. That caused the opinion letter to be written, which has been universally applied, although it goes against the spirit of why comp. time was allowed in the first place.
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