Public Employee Press
Lawsuit arrests NYPD overtime abuse $2.4 million for clericals, TEAs
By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
More than 1,400 DC 37 members will share in a record-setting $2.4 million federal court overtime settlement with the New York Police Dept., which for many years did not use their night shift differentials as part of the base pay in calculating time-and-a-half overtime payments.
In the March settlement of the suit filed by the DC 37 Legal Dept. and labor lawyer Stuart Lichten, the U.S. District Court ordered the NYPD to pay the workers $1.2 million in back wages and $1.2 million in damages for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. The 2,000 NYPD employees covered include some 1,200 clerical-administrative workers in Local 1549, 217 Traffic Enforcement Agents Levels 3 and 4 in Local 983 and members of other unions.
“When the Police Department implemented a new payroll system, it corrected the pay rates,” said DC 37 Senior Assistant General Counsel Steve Sykes. “Our members noticed more money in their paychecks and asked the union about it. That’s when we found that NYPD had not been paying the correct wages.” The union filed the collective action in 2011 to recoup wages underpaid from August 2008 to January 2011. Under the FLSA, employers must pay time-and-a-half for all work beyond 40 hours a week, and the union contract provides a night shift differential of 10 percent in addition to base pay. The Police Dept. shorted the workers by not including the differential when it calculated overtime pay. “The city knew what they were doing was wrong. If we did not find it, they would have continued to shortchange employees,” said Lichten. “We had to go to court to stop them.” “We actively pursued this case when we found that our members were being denied their full wages,” said Local 983 President Joe Puleo. “Now they are finally being paid correctly.”
The payments for back wages depend on how much overtime each member worked, based on city payroll records, Sykes said. The court-ordered damages equal the overtime amount, essentially doubling each worker’s total. The payouts range from as much as $10,000 for some Local 1549 workers and $7,200 for some in Local 983 to as little as 46 cents or nothing in some cases. DC 37 is reviewing city records to make sure every member entitled to money is paid.
“DC 37 and the local were diligent in correcting this injustice for our members, and we are happy they will be paid what they are owed,” said Local 1549 Executive Vice President Alma Roper.
Notices about the settlement have been sent to all plaintiffs, and the union attorneys have notified the affected workers by mail of a May hearing on the terms of the settlement, which can be found at http://www.dc37.net. Employees who were not part of the original case may also be eligible for payments.