California Police Officers Seek Holiday Pay Included in Regular Rate

Six Merced, California, Police Department employees have filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming it failed to calculate overtime pay correctly. The suit was filed on August 17, 2018 by three sergeants, two patrol officers, and one dispatcher in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. Specifically, these sergeants, officers, and dispatcher claim the city failed to include holiday pay in the regular rate of pay for FLSA overtime purposes.

Properly calculating the regular rate of pay is critical for employers. The FLSA requires that the regular rate “include all remuneration for employment paid to, or on behalf of, the employee” with only a few very narrow exceptions. This means that virtually all the compensation an employee receives from his or her employer must be included in the regular rate of pay.

The FLSA also requires that overtime be paid at not less than 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay. Therefore, if an employer fails to include all remuneration required by the FLSA in an employee’s regular rate, they will end up shortchanging the employee’s overtime rate. Failing to include all remuneration in an employee’s regular rate of pay is one of the leading causes of FLSA lawsuits today.

As a general rule, the FLSA and Department of Labor (DOL) regulations allow employers to exclude some forms of holiday pay from employees’ regular rate of pay. However, whether holiday pay can be rightfully excluded from the regular rate requires a fact-based inquiry. Just labeling compensation as holiday pay does not guarantee it can be excluded from the regular rate. It all depends on the facts . . . For more on holiday pay and the regular rate:

The Regular Rate, FLSA, and Firefighters Part III

Here are some relevant portions from the complaint:

  • For Defendant’s police sergeants and officers, Defendant recognizes twelve holidays for pay purposes.
  • If Defendant’s police sergeants and officers are required to work on a day designatedas a holiday, they are paid at their straight time rate for each hour worked during the first eight hours of work and, in addition, receive pay equal to and in lieu of time off at their straight time hourly rate.
  • If the holiday falls on Defendant’s police sergeants’ and officers’ normally assigned day off, they are paid additional pay equal to and in lieu of time off at their straight time hourly rate.

Proper calculation of the regular rate is one of many topics discussed in depth at our upcoming FLSA for Fire Departments seminars. Please consider joining us.

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