Providence Settles Police Overtime Complaint For $1.5 Million

PROVIDENCE — The city has reached a $1.5-million settlement agreement with its police union over overtime payments 400-plus officers and retirees alleged they are owed.

Mayor Jorge Elorza and City Treasurer James Lombardi III and the union, through its then-President Taft Manzotti, agreed this month to settle the years-long legal dispute over claims that the city violated federal fair-labor standards by failing to pay accurate overtime wages. The Fair Labor Standards Act dictates that workers be paid time-and-a-half for all overtime. The lawsuit the union filed in 2013 accused the city of neglecting to include longevity pay in its calculation as required by law.

The city government says it continues to dispute the validity of the union’s claims, but agreed to settle the matter “to avoid the expense, time, and uncertainty of trial.” Under the terms of the agreement filed in Friday in U.S. District Court, the city will calculate damages from December 2010 through July 31, 2019 by applying 2.5 hours for each week in which the officers worked 37.5 hours.

In addition, the city will pay $223,000 in legal fees to the law office of William J. Conley Jr. Conley did not return a phone call Monday.

The agreement signed Nov. 4, which still awaits court approval, specified that the first payment be made within two weeks of that date and the second 30 days thereafter for the unpaid wages. The first round of checks has already been sent out.

In exchange, participants have agreed to drop their claims.

It is the second overtime lawsuit the city has settled. Last May, city leaders agreed to pay firefighters $3.3 million to settle similar claims with members of the firefighter union, a spokeswoman for the city said.