A police officer working for the North Hampton Township, Massachusetts Police Department was injured in an on-duty automobile accident in July 2007. The officer eventually returned to work on a light-duty basis, but continued to participate in physical therapy, including hyperbaric oxygen treatment. When the Department denied his request for overtime pay for the time spent in therapy that was outside of his regular work shift, the Northampton Township Police Benevolent Association challenged the Department’s decision in arbitration.
An arbitrator denied the grievance. The Arbitrator found that the contract did not specifically address the question of compensation for the time spent in treatment for work-related injuries. The Arbitrator also ruled that the claimed past practice simply did not exist. In the Arbitrator’s judgment, the Department had been inconsistent in how it treated attendance at therapy during off-duty hours. The Arbitrator noted “many instances” of officers attending treatment sessions without compensation. In the end, the Arbitrator found that the fact that the Department allowed some officers to attend therapy sessions during work hours “does not convert a favorable accommodation into an implied term of the contract requiring pay for such treatment when an officer is off duty.”
North Hampton Township, Massachusetts, LAIG 6793 (De Treux, 2009).
This article appears in the February 2010 issue