The D.C. Police Union, on behalf of more than 1,000 police officers, is suing the D.C. government and the Metropolitan Police Department over claims that they haven’t been fully compensated for working overtime during the pandemic.
In the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District on Monday, the 1,053 D.C. police officers allege that they have regularly worked more than 171 hours in a 28-day period and have been paid at their typical overtime rate of one-and-a-half times the regular rate. They say, however, that MPD didn’t factor in hazard pay they’ve received under Mayor Muriel Bowser’s authorization. The suit claims that their regular rate should have been adjusted to include the hazard pay.
In April, Bowser announced a $14-per-day stipend for city employees, including MPD officers, who had to physically show up to work during the public health emergency, which could include up to $140 per pay period. The measure included an extra 40 hours of paid leave and retroactive pay from March 16, when Bowser ordered restaurants, bars and other businesses to close due to the pandemic.
While the officers received the hazard pay, that additional money wasn’t factored into their time-and-a-half overtime pay calculations. The attorney representing the police union said in a statement that the alleged miscalculation was a “failure” that resulted in an “unlawfully low” overtime rate.
In a letter to its members, the union said that MPD initially “agreed to include the calculation, but later recanted and is refusing to provide the correct compensation.” The suit says that representatives of MPD and the police union met in July, but the department said that it wouldn’t be including hazard pay in its overtime calculations.
The union is seeking full backpay and damages to make up for the allegedly miscalculated overtime rate.
The suit marks an uptick in litigation from the D.C. Police Union in recent months. In August, the union sued the city over police reforms that could make it easier for MPD management to fire officers over disciplinary actions; the union filed a suit a few days later, seeking an injunction to block the Bowser administration from releasing body-camera footage and names of officers who have “committed an officer-involved death.”
The mayor’s office declined to comment on ongoing litigation.