In most businesses around the country, including many here in Georgia, employees are required to be prepared to start work at the beginning of their shifts. In some cases, workers feel that the steps they take to prepare for their shifts should be paid time. In fact, a potential wage and hour complaint revolving around this issue could cause a disruption in operations for a police department in another state with potential implications here in Georgia.
The officer’s union in Texas is not the only entity interested in the fact that officers may be owed overtime pay for work-related tasks performed prior to them officially going on duty. The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor is said to be investigating this issue at the department. The agency is attempting to determine whether the department is in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA establishes the federal minimum wage and the rules regarding overtime pay.
The city of Austin, Texas, does not believe it is violating the FLSA. However, the union that represents the Austin Police Department believes that any tasks performed by officers in preparation for their shifts should be paid. In most cases, this would be overtime. The union is preparing a lawsuit against the city and the department, but is doing so in anticipation of negotiating a settlement.
This particular wage and hour complaint may apply to police officers, but workers at many Georgia businesses and entities, including law enforcement, may believe they are in the same position. If employees are complaining about performing certain tasks prior to being considered on-the-clock, it may be a good idea to review the situation and determine if the complaints have merit under the FLSA. Conducting such a review and making any necessary adjustments could save a company from costly and time-consuming litigation that could ultimately interfere with the operations of the business.
Source: policeone.com, “U.S. Labor Department investigates Texas police over unpaid overtime“, Philip Jankowski, July 9, 2015