Tag Archives: FLSA

Bppa Members Paid $2.23 Million In Damages For City’s Unilateral Implementation Of Flsa Pay Period Sandulli Grace Successfully Argues Case At Mass Supreme Judicial Court

After a seven year battle, the City of Boston has finally paid Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association (BPPA) members damages relating to the unlawful unilateral implementation of a 28 day/ 171 hour Fair Labor Standards Act pay period in 2002. In total, 1765 officers received $1,781,091.11 in damages plus $449,628.44 in statutory interest, for a total damages payment of $2,230,719.55. Because the BPPA refused to bow to the City’s change in 2002, BPPA members are the only BPD sworn personnel benefitting from the shorter pay period.

This case had its origins in the 2000 lawsuit brought by over 800 patrolmen (represented by Sandulli Grace attorneys Bryan Decker and John Becker and with the support of the BPPA) alleging violations of the FLSA due to the City’s failure to include Quinn Bill and night shift differential in the calculation of FLSA overtime. In fact, it turned out that the City wasn’t even calculating FLSA overtime, and in 2004, the officers were awarded over $750,000 in damages and attorney fees. Attempting to cut its losses, in spring 2002 the City announced that it wanted to implement a longer FLSA pay period. A longer pay period allows the employer to stretch its overtime liability, resulting in lower payments to officers. Because the issue implicated officers’ pay, the BPPA demanded to bargain. The City refused, and unilaterally implemented the change at the start of July, 2002.

The BPPA challenged that unilateral change by filing an unfair labor practice charge with the Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission. The City contended that it did not need to bargain the change with the union, and the BPPA was the only union to challenge the change. Sandulli Grace attorneys Bryan Decker and Patrick Bryant represented the union before the LRC, which ruled in the union’s favor in 2006, finding that the decision to change the FLSA pay period was a mandatory subject of bargaining, and ordered the City to restore the traditional 7 day/40 hour pay period. Rather than comply, the City appealed the case, and the state’s Supreme Judicial Court took the appeal. Bryan Decker argued the case before the high court, and in 2009 the Court upheld the finding in the Union’s favor.

Following the SJC decision, the City finally agreed to implement the 7day / 40 hour work period. BPPA members have been receiving FLSA overtime on a weekly basis since late last summer. The City then undertook to calculate damages for the period from 2002 until 2009, which resulted in the $2.23 million dollar payout this summer.

(A longer, more detailed report on this case appears in this month’s Pax Centurion, the BPPA’s Official Newspaper).

Mass SJC Grants Another Victory To Boston Police Patrolmen’s Union In Long-Running Overtime Battle: City’s Unilateral Shortchanging Of Overtime Pay Violates State Law

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the state’s highest court, today upheld a 2006 ruling of the state Commonwealth Employment Relations Board (CERB) that the City of Boston unlawfully reduced the overtime compensation of Boston Patrol Officers without first bargaining with their union, the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, Inc. (BPPA).  The SJC and CERB ordered the City, which made the unlawful change in July 2002, to “make whole” the patrol officers represented by the BPPA – which likely will cost the City several hundred thousand dollars. 

Today’s SJC decision caps lengthy litigation regarding the City’s repeated violation of state and federal laws concerning overtime pay to Boston police officers.  In 2000, more than 800 Boston patrol officers, represented by Sandulli Grace Attorneys Bryan Decker and John Becker, sued the City in federal court for the City’s outright refusal to pay overtime as required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The federal court agreed, and the City ultimately paid officers almost $700,000 plus attorney’s fees.  In July 2002, while the federal litigation was ongoing, the City unilaterally adopted the FLSA’s “partial public safety exemption,” which lowers federal overtime payments to police officers and firefighters.  While the City’s unilateral adoption of this partial overtime exemption was permitted by the FLSA, it was not by state law.  Under state law, Chapter 150E of Massachusetts General Laws, a municipal employer must bargain with a union before changing the wages of employees represented by a union.  The BPPA immediately demanded to bargain about this change.  The City refused, even though the parties were negotiating a new contract, and instead implemented the change.  On behalf of the BPPA, Sandulli Grace Attorneys Bryan Decker and Patrick Bryant filed an unfair labor practice charge with the state labor relations agency.  CERB ruled in the BPPA’s favor, and the City appealed. 

The SJC upheld the CERB decision on all points, finding that:


  • “the city was obligated under G.L. c. 150E to bargain in good faith with the union regarding” the July 2002 decision to adopt the partial public safety exemption;
  • that the City further violated the law by refusing to provide the BPPA with information it requested;
  • and that the proper remedy was for the city to “[m]ake whole affected employees for the economic losses they may have suffered as a result of the [c]ity’s decision to adopt” the partial public safety exemption. 

With regards to the remedy, a conservative estimate is that the City reduced overtime pay to officers by at least $100,000 per year by making the unlawful change.  Damages will run back to July 2002, and the BPPA’s members are entitled to interest.

BPPA President Thomas Nee welcomed the Court’s decision.  “We’re extremely gratified that the Supreme Judicial Court agreed with our position in this case.  The FLSA is designed to protect the rights of people who work more than 40 hours per week and ensure that they are properly compensated.  The Court affirmed that this applies to police officers as well.”

Sandulli Grace Attorney Bryan Decker, who argued the case to the SJC, said, “The City continuously, and improperly, claimed that it couldn’t comply simultaneously with the FLSA and its obligations under state law.  The SJC rejected this argument as bogus, and upheld that workers are entitled to the protections of the FLSA and their Union.  Given the state of our economy, this decision reminds employers that a desire to save money is not a defense to violating legal obligations.  Hopefully, municipalities will learn that the only way through these challenging times is to treat unions and employees as partners rather than problems.”

READ the SJC decision at: