Police officers in Richmond, Va., will be paid $7.2 million in unpaid overtime under the terms of a settlement agreement approved July 27 by a federal judge. The settlement between more than 600 officers and the city resolved a year-long fight over whether federal Fair Labor Standards Act provisions or state laws held sway over officers’ overtime.
The initial collective and class action complaint was filed in 2011 by Stacy Rogers on behalf of police officers in the Richmond Police Department for alleged violations of both Virginia state labor laws and the FLSA for failing to pay proper overtime wages (Rogers v. Richmond, No.3:11-cv-00620, E.D. Va. (2012)).
Richmond officers are scheduled to work 80 hours within a 14-day work period. The city’s policy was to pay officers their regular pay rate for all hours worked up to 86 per pay cycle, when the federal threshold was reached and FLSA overtime provisions kicked in.
Virginia has had a more stringent labor law on the books since 2005 that requires overtime pay for hours worked in excess of regularly scheduled hours — in this case hours worked over 80 in a 14-day period. The officers’ lawsuit alleged that they should have been paid overtime for all hours worked over 80 during a scheduled work period, in compliance with the Virginia law. Their lawsuit was filed to remedy this “gap” in their overtime pay.
The City of Richmond contended that the 80-hour overtime threshold the officers would have under Virginia law was preempted by the federal 86-hour threshold in the FLSA.
The officers responded to the city’s claim by arguing that the federal and state laws were complementary, meaning the city could not disregard the state requirement.
For more analysis of this case and additional information about the interplay between state laws and the FLSA see Thompson’s FLSA library, including the Fair Labor Standards Handbook for States, Local Governments and Schools.