Franklin Tp. Police Officers Defeat Township's Motion to Dismiss their Fair Labor Standards Act

On April 30, 2012, petitioner, Christine Leeds, applied for Ordinary Disability benefits. On December 11, 2012, the Board of Pensions (Board) denied her application for the reason that: “you are not totally and permanently disabled from the performance of your regular and assigned duties pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:15A-42 and relevant case law. Petitioner appealed the denial.

We represent several police officers formerly employed by the Franklin Tiwnship Police Department, Gloucester County, NJ. In this action, Plaintiffs, current and former law enforcement officers for the Township of Franklin, generally allege that Defendant “failed and refused to properly compensate Plaintiffs for” otherwise compensable pre-shift work, in accordance with an “established” practice incorporated into the parties’ collective bargaining agreement that required officers “to report” ten minutes prior to “their scheduled shift.”

Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that “defendant’s violations of the FLSA include but are not limited to: (1) unlawfully requiring Plaintiffs to report to work [ten] minutes in advance of their officially assigned shift and not paying them at all for this required time at regular rates of pay and/or overtime rates of pay; (2) requiring and/or permitting Plaintiffs to work beyond the end of their shift without compensation and without paying Plaintiffs for properly calculated regular rate wages and/or overtime rate compensation; and (3) failing and/or refusing to pay Plaintiffs for duty work performed on the way to the police station pre-shift start time.”

Plaintiffs also allege that the pre-shift requirement, set forth in Article IX, ¶ C(1)3 of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement, required Plaintiffs to perform uncompensated work in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq. (FLSA).Consequently, Plaintiffs seek declaratory judgment concerning the “invalid, illegal and unenforceable” nature of Defendant’s “practices and policies” set forth in Article IX, ¶ C(1).

Plaintiffs also “claim that they have been forced to use accrued compensatory time or lose it and seek damages associated with the forced use of compensatory time, and that they have been forced to lose earned compensatory time,” consequently, Plaintiffs “seek a declaration from the Court that the forced use of compensatory time is illegal in that it violates the FLSA.”

The Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. On December 23, 2015, the Court denied the Defendant's motion in most part but granted it only with regard to the officers' claims for reimbursement of work performed on the way to the police station as pre-shift comepsnable time.

Imprtantly, for us the Court ORDERED that Defendant’s motion for summary judgment seeking a ruling that the Franklin Township Police Department has established a 28-day work period under 29 U.S.C. § 207(k) for Plaintiffs who work 12-hour shifts, shall be, and is DENIED; and it further ORDERED that Defendant’s motion for summary judgment seeking a ruling that the Franklin Township Police Department has established a 7-day work period under 29 U.S.C. § 207(k) for Plaintiff Gaetano, shall be, and is DENIED; and it also ORDERED that Defendant’s motion for summary judgment seeking a ruling that Franklin Township police officers are compensated for muster time as a component of their base salaries, shall be, and is DENIED. The Court Ordered the parties to mediate this case in an attempt to resolve the monetary damages. In the event that Mediation is unsuccessful, we are permitted to prceed to trial to have a jury make the determination of damages. Attorney fees and costs are to be awarded to Plaintiffs upon a successful outcome at trial.

Hughes, et. als. v. The Township of Franklin, United States District Court, D.N.J., Civil No. 13-3761

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