No Rule Against Working For Free In LAPD

Teresa Anderson is a sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department. LAPD terminated Anderson, citing the fact that she “neglected to request compensation after working overtime,” that she “neglected to report misconduct after witnessing unidentified sworn officers discourage subordinates from submitting requests for overtime compensation,” and that she lied in a deposition when she stated that LAPD employees were aware that she violated Department policies regarding the FLSA. Anderson challenged her discharge in the California Court of Appeals.

The Court overturned Anderson’s termination. The Court found problems with the way the Department charged Anderson: “Although Anderson did acknowledge that she worked overtime without authorization to prepare for roll call, Count 1 does not charge Anderson with working unauthorized overtime to prepare for roll call or for any other purpose. Rather, Count 1 alleged that ‘on several occasions between June 2001 and February 2003, Anderson knowingly violated Departmental policy when she neglected to request compensation after working overtime.’ Significantly, the gravamen of this charge is the failure to request compensation for working overtime, not working unauthorized overtime. In fact, the charging allegation did not differentiate between authorized and unauthorized overtime.

“Although Anderson did admit that she committed misconduct by working unauthorized overtime and that she did not ask to be paid for the overtime she worked, LAPD has failed to point to a statute, rule or regulation, in force at the time the alleged misconduct was committed, that makes it an act of misconduct for a police officer to work overtime, whether authorized or unauthorized, and not ask to be compensated for it. Although an order does state that overtime is to be reported on a specified form, it does not advise employees that the failure to do so is misconduct or will subject them to discipline and possible termination. The conduct charged against Anderson in count 1 did not constitute misconduct in the first instance.”

Anderson v. City of Los Angeles, 2011 WL 1137335 (Ca. App. 2011).

This article appears in the May 2011 issue.