City police officers’ lawsuit dismissed

Published 10:24 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A judge with the Fourth Judicial Circuit of Virginia has dismissed a lawsuit filed on Sept. 2, 2015, by 25 current and former Franklin Police Department officers against the City. That suit alleged the City had breached its contract with them by requiring them to work 11 uncompensated hours each 28-day pay period before they could receive overtime pay.

Judge Charles E. Poston of Norfolk dismissed the lawsuit on March 8 and issued an opinion that the plaintiffs (the officers) were salaried employees, not hourly, and that the existence of hourly rate calculations in the city’s payroll documents, which were used to calculate overtime wages, were not proof of an hourly wage system. He further stated that there is no common law right for employees to receive overtime pay, and that overtime pay is based on the grace of the employer or upon a statute.

The officers’ suit focused on a section of the Fair Labor Standards Act that permits municipalities to require firefighters and law enforcement officers to work 171 hours per 28-day pay period instead of 160 before becoming entitled to overtime pay, resulting in an 11-hour “gap.”

According to Poston, Virginia law does not require the City of Franklin to pay the plaintiffs for their “gap” hours, but does not prohibit them from doing so either.

J. Daniel Vinson, an associate attorney with Randall | Page P.C., the firm representing the officers, said that the officers plan to appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court.