Should police officers assigned to a prestigious SWAT unit be paid while on-call awaiting their next activation? That is the question being asked this week in a Jefferson County courthouse in Louisville, Kentucky. A group of 41 current and former Louisville Metro Police Department (Metro) SWAT Team members filed the lawsuit over 5 years ago claiming their employer failed to compensate them for time spent on-call in violation of Kentucky state laws. The trial is expected to last several weeks.
According to WDRB News, the SWAT officers allege that they are routinely placed on-call for as long as a month at a time. According to Ann Oldfather, the officers’ attorney, Metro places “substantial restrictions on [the officers] free time” while on-call. According to Oldfather, the restrictions are so burdensome, the officers should receive compensation for the on-call time.
It is worth noting that the officers’ claims seem to arise from Kentucky state law and not the FLSA. My assumption is that Kentucky law provides greater protections for workers placed on-call as compared to the FLSA. This is not uncommon. The FLSA represents the bare minimum wage and hour requirements. States frequently enact more enhanced protections for workers in that particular state. For more on state laws and the FLSA, click here.
Attorney Oldfather is no stranger to overtime litigation. In fact, she was the attorney of record in a previous lawsuit dating back to the early 2000’s between the City of Louisville and a group of retired firefighters. That lawsuit ended up costing the city $34 million in back wages and attorney fees.
For more on the story from WDRB News, click here.