The City of Baldwyn, Mississippi has been served with a federal lawsuit filed by five city police officers. The suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, alleges the city failed to pay the officers for all hours worked in violation of both the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Mississippi state laws.
According to the complaint, the city systematically altered the officers’ time cards and work records to avoid paying overtime. The officers work an alternating 14-day work schedule. The schedule requires officers work five (5) twelve-hour shifts in the first 7 days and two (2) twelve-hour shifts in the second 7 days. This results in officers being scheduled to work seven (7) twelve-hour shifts, or eighty-four hours every 14 days. Fourteen-day alternating schedules like this are common for law enforcement officers throughout the country. However, the officers allege the city is not paying officers for every hour worked. The city only pays officers a maximum of eighty hours every two weeks, regardless of the actual number of hours worked.
The officers are seeking back wages, consisting of both straight-time and overtime when applicable, plus attorney’s fees. Since the officers allege the city was well aware of the actual number of hours officers worked and the city physically altered work records to avoid paying overtime, they are also seeking liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are common when employers willfully violate the FLSA. Liquidated damages are typically equal to the actual back wages owed. For example, if an employer owes an employee $500 in back wages, the liquidated damages award will also be $500. Therefore the employee receives a total of $1,000 in damages, despite only being owed $500 in unpaid wages.
Here is a copy of the complaint: