New Orleans Police Department Faces Overtime Lawsuit

Complaining about unfair work practices by his superiors, a former New Orleans police officer has filed a lawsuit against the city and the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). A full-time employee and detective in NOPD’s 1st District, the officer claims that he was refused payment or time-off for the extra hours that he put in performing administrative duties.

NOPD employees are supposed to be given equal time off within the same two-week pay period or time-and-a-half pay when they work extra hours, but the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was ignored, according to the lawsuit. It also alleged that his employer retaliated and blocked his promotions when he lodged a formal complaint against the department’s overtime policy.

Our Chicago workers compensation lawyers warn against unfair practices in the workplace. Most workers who feel that their rights have been violated can seek protection under the FLSA, which sets minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and other standards for full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in federal, state, and local governments. FLSA seeks to prevent employers from making their employees work long hours for substandard pay.

The ex-police officer’s lawsuit points out several instances of unfair work practices by the NOPD. A memo issued in 2011 stated that investigators who performed clerical tasks like writing reports and sending official emails outside of their working hours would not get paid overtime. Supervisors did not count those hours.

State and Federal laws prohibit employers from retaliating against employees in various circumstances, but his supervisors even went against this, according to the lawsuit. The ex-police officer says that he was threatened with transfer for not coming in to submit a form during his off-duty time. His formal complaint about these FLSA violations to the NOPD’s Public Integrity Bureau and the Department of Labor was wrongfully disclosed immediately after he submitted it. This too goes against NOPD’s rules and regulations, the officer points out.

He was reprimanded for leaving his assigned area, though he claims he had permission to do so. He received a letter of reprimand that was later overturned with a one-day suspension, making him ineligible for promotion.

The officer feels the department supported the retaliation and measures against him. Even his request for a transfer from the First District was refused. Attempts were also made to malign his professional reputation. The officer, a previous winner of several medals, awards and other laurels, finally resigned.

In another case in 2010, a Chicago police officer sued the city, claiming up to two years of overtime pay for the work he did on his department-issued Blackberry outside of duty hours. His lawsuit asks for overtime pay for his colleagues in a similar position.

In fact, the smartphone has become the culprit when it comes to working overtime. German carmaker Volkswagen recently decided to block email to its employees’ official mobile phones 30 minutes after they got off work and resume the service only when their next shift began.

The recent recession saw more and more people putting in overtime without being compensated. Now American workers are retaliating and suing employers under federal and state wage-and-hour laws for non-payment of overtime. Mobile technology keeps them ‘available’ all the time and the fear of getting laid off forces them to work longer without extra pay, they say.

Federal law protects workers from retaliation for filing or attempting to claim a right such as overtime pay. Our Illinois minimum wage lawyers have successfully resolved many of these types of cases. If your rights in the workplace have been violated or you are improperly refused overtime, contact one of our experienced attorneys today to claim the compensation you deserve.