In 2004 , nearly two-thousand Chicago Police officers joined together in a Federal lawsuit against the City of Chicago regarding the use of compensatory time. The officers want to be able to use their compensatory time on dates of their choosing. Lawyers from the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge # 7, handled the case and alleged that the City was consistently violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) whenever requests to use compensatory time were denied. The City typically uses “manpower” as an excuse for refusing to grant compensatory time off. This is all going to change.
Yesterday, the plaintiffs obtained a judgment in their favor and against the City. The City will no longer be able to use the “manpower” excuse for denying compensatory time requests. Rather, the City will be made to follow FLSA requirements and prove that granting a compensatory time off request would result in an “undue disruption” of service. In the future, a system will have to be constructed wherein officers can replace each other when compensatory time is used. Additionally, the Federal Judge ruled that the City’s policy of refusing to pay overtime to a replacement worker is flatly contrary to Department of Labor standards and cannot cause an “undue disruption.”
The Federal Court got it right when it stated that the FLSA does not authorize the City balancing its budgetary and public safety concerns on the backs of police personnel. The Judge has directed our lawyers to meet with the City’s lawyers before the end of the month in order to discuss changes that the City must make in order to bring it into compliance with the FLSA. The Lodge’s intent in this case was to provide its members with the right to use their compensatory time when they desire to use it. Yesterday’s decision should not only allow members to do this, it should result in additional overtime opportunities as well. We will keep you posted with all future developments.
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