Employees Can Be Forced To Use Comp Time In Lieu Of Sick Leave

A group of corrections officers filed a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) lawsuit against the City of Atlanta, Georgia. One of the claims made by the officers was that the City forced them to use their compensatory time off instead of sick leave to cover their absences due to illness or injury. As the officers described it, the City’s policies stemmed from the fact that sick leave was forfeited on retirement, whereas the FLSA mandates that compensatory time off be cashed out on retirement. Forcing the use of comp time for normal sick leave purposes, the officers argued, the City was avoiding the comp time cash-out requirements of the FLSA.

A federal court saw the matter differently. The Court found that the FLSA “does not prohibit employers from forcing employees to use compensatory time. Prior cases have been concerned about converting the FLSA’s shield into a sword, forcing employers to pay cash compensation instead of providing compensatory time. Upholding the integrity of the FLSA’s compensatory time off provisions should override the officers’ concerns about not receiving their sick leave on termination. The Court will dismiss the officers’ claim that they have been forced to use comp time to the exclusion of sick leave.”

Adderly v. City of Atlanta, Georgia, 2009 WL 1456575 (N.D. Ga. 2009).

This article appears in the August 2009 issue