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A U.S. District Court has dismissed a Fair Labor Standards Act case in which Chicago police charged the police department maintained an unwritten policy of denying them compensation for off-duty work they performed on their department-issued BlackBerry devices.
The case was filed in May 2010 by Sgt. Jeffrey Allen on behalf of himself and current and former police personnel assigned to the department's Bureau of Organized Crime, according to last week's ruling by the U.S. District Court in Chicago in Jeffrey Allen et al. v. City of Chicago.
Fifty-one plaintiffs eventually participated in the case, which was certified a conditional class action, according to the ruling filed Thursday by Magistrate Judge Sidney I. Schenkier. The ruling follows a six-day trial held in August.
“We conclude that plaintiffs have not proven that the City maintained an unwritten policy to deprive plaintiffs of payment for off-duty work performed on their BlackBerrys,” said the ruling, in dismissing the case.
Although some plaintiffs maintained there was a “pervasive culture or understanding” this work would not be compensated, “The evidence established that several plaintiffs submitted time-due slips for off-duty work performed on their BlackBerrys, and that they were never denied compensation for this work.
“The evidence also shows that at least two supervisors … approved time-due slips for duty work they knew was performed on the BlackBerrys. No plaintiff was ever told that he or she should not submit time-due slips for off-duty BlackBerry work,” said Judge Schenkier in his ruling.
“Thus, we conclude that plaintiffs fell far short of showing a uniform culture or well-grounded understanding that their off-duty BlackBerry work would not be compensated” by the Bureau of Organized Crime, the ruling said.
The U.S. Department of Labor may issue a final proposal that will change the highly litigated, so-called “white-collar exemptions” for overtime with respect to workers' duties without giving employers the opportunity to comment on the matter.