|$20 million settlement for Sergeants’ Union|
|Written by Robert Mladinich|
In April 2004 the NYC Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA) filed a lawsuit against the City of New York on behalf 4,304 members under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The suit challenged the way in which the NYPD paid overtime to sergeants since 2001. The City asserted that the primary role of sergeants was managerial in nature, thereby precluding them from being entitled to overtime compensation.
A jury agreed with the City after a 2008 trial, but a judge admonished the department for its “outrageous behavior” in for investigating and disciplining sergeants who participated in the suit. The SBA appealed the jury verdict, and in August 2012 they reached a $20 million settlement with the City for tens of thousands of hours of overtime that had not been paid to the current or former sergeants who participated in this case.
The City also agreed to pay the legal expenses that had been incurred by the SBA. The settlement is subject to the approval of the United States District Court judge overseeing the matter, so it is yet to be determined how the funds will be distributed.
“This lawsuit was all about doing what was fair and right, and the settlement is long overdue” said Ed Mullins, who has been president of the 12,000 member SBA, the fifth largest police union in the country, since July 2002. “I have always maintained that NYPD sergeants have one of the hardest jobs in the world, and they deserve to be treated fairly and respectfully.”
As a rookie officer in 1982, Mullins recalled getting delayed on an assignment for 10 minutes past the end of his tour, only to be told that he was not entitled to overtime because he did not work the requisite minimum of 15 minutes overtime.
While there were many other issues related to the lawsuit, that particular incident always gnawed at him because it represented one of many ways the City took advantage of its employees.
After becoming SBA president he assembled a legal team to explore the complex issues related to overtime compensation. Thomas Gearon, a former NYPD officer who has since become an attorney, advised Mullins from the beginning that he had a viable case that was worth fighting for. Mullins then enlisted the aid of nationally renowned labor attorneys Will Aitchison, Greg McGillivary, William Kilberg, Edward Cox, Stephen Younger and Ronald Dunn, as well as SBA attorney
Andrew Quinn, Washington lawyer and lobbyist Andrew Siff, and SBA Vice President Robert Ganley to investigate the matter as it related to Department of Labor directives and other areas of law.
“In the end, things worked out in our favor, and I am very happy about that,” said Mullins. “So much went into this case before it even went to court, so I really cannot thank the legal team enough. They did a superb job, just like NYPD sergeants do on a daily basis.”