Back Pay Includes Missed Overtime

An often-argued issue in disciplinary arbitrations is whether an award of back pay can properly include an award of missed overtime. One of the more respected arbitrators in the country, Stanley Sergent, recently held that back pay awards could include compensation for missed overtime opportunities.

The case came to Arbitrator Sergent via an unusual route. The City of Lake Worth, Florida, terminated a sergeant. After a hearing, Arbitrator Charles Frost reversed the termination, and ordered that the sergeant be reinstated subject to a six-month suspension and demotion. Arbitrator Frost retained jurisdiction for 90 days for the purposes of resolving any questions the parties had concerning the implementation of his remedy.

When the City and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), which represented the sergeant, could not agree on the remedy, they wrote to Arbitrator Frost asking his assistance. By this time, Arbitrator Frost had retired, and the case was referred to Arbitrator Sergent. The primary issue in the hearing was whether back pay could include missed overtime opportunities.

The Arbitrator agreed with the FOP on the issue: “Since Arbitrator Frost did not intend to reinstate the grievant without any back pay, he was to be made whole for any losses he suffered over and above those related to a six-month suspension. Accordingly, the grievant was entitled to back pay for the overtime he would have worked, which was estimated at 14 hours per month for the 14 months of the suspension.”

City of Lake Worth, LAIG 6778 (Sergent, 2009).

This article appears in the January 2010 issue