PITTSBURGH, PA – The city of Pittsburgh must pay its police officers a total of $825,000 following a judge’s decision today that it ignored, for years, an arrangement with their union that boosted overtime pay.
U.S. District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose held a non-jury trial on the issue in May, and after a review of briefs filed by the city and Fraternal Order of Police, found that the city “did not make subjective good faith attempts to ascertain the requirements” of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and “did not have objectively reasonable grounds for believing that its acts were not a violation” of the law.
The dispute had its roots in a 2006 agreement between the city and FOP that mandated a slight increase in overtime payments, to take into account officers’ shift differentials and longevity pay.
But the agreement wasn’t properly implemented, in part because it was lost in the shuffle during a personnel change at the office of the private company that then handled the city’s payroll.
In April 2009, the city fixed the overtime payments. But it took until March of this year to pay the officers all of the back-overtime they were due, which totaled $825,000.
The city said it had made an honest mistake and a good-faith effort to remedy it. The union argued that the city should pay liquidated damages totaling double the amount the police were underpaid. The judge agreed with the union.
City Solicitor Daniel Regan said he is reviewing the opinion and did not yet know whether the city would appeal.