McGrath v. City of Somerville

Citation419 F.Supp.3d 233
Decision Date30 September 2019
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 17-10979-FDS
Parties Michael MCGRATH, et al., Plaintiffs, v. CITY OF SOMERVILLE, Defendant.
CourtUnited States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts

Jack J. Canzoneri, Dennis M. Coyne, Jr., Allison J. Zimmon, James F. Lamond, Jason R. Powalisz, Olinda R. Marshall, McDonald, Lamond, Canzoneri & Hickernell, Southborough, MA, for Plaintiffs.

Barry J. Miller, Alison Hickey Silveira, Timothy J. Buckley, Seyfarth Shaw, LLP, Boston, MA, Shannon T. Phillips, City of Somerville Law Department, David P. Shapiro, City Hall Law Department, Somerville, MA, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

SAYLOR, District Judge This is an action for violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. , and the Massachusetts Wage Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, §§ 148, 150. Plaintiff Michael McGrath and 82 other individually named plaintiffs are current and former police officers who are or were employed by defendant the City of Somerville, Massachusetts, between May 26, 2014, and May 26, 2017. The complaint alleges that the officers regularly worked more than 40 hours a week but were not paid overtime as required by law.

This is not a typical claim for unpaid wages. Somerville police officers are paid generously, according to a complicated system with various supplements and bonuses depending on their rank, seniority, duties, shift, education, and training. They also have ample opportunities for paid details, including an entitlement to certain minimum payments even if little work was performed. Those provisions are the product of a collective bargaining agreement between the police officers' union and the City, negotiated with the participation of experienced labor counsel on both sides.

Plaintiffs do not allege that the City breached the terms of the CBA. Instead, they argue that by complying with the CBA, the City violated both the FLSA and the Massachusetts Wage Act, and that they are entitled to additional overtime pay as a matter of law. Their claims are highly technical, and involve the intersection of a complex compensation scheme and complex provisions of federal labor law.

The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment as to a variety of issues. For the following reasons, both motions will be denied in part and granted in part.

I. Background

Except where otherwise noted, the following facts are set forth in the record and are undisputed.

A. Factual Background

Michael McGrath and 82 other individual plaintiffs are current or former police officers employed by defendant the City of Somerville between May 26, 2014, and May 26, 2017. (First McGrath Aff. ¶ 1). The Somerville Police Employees Association ("the SPEA") is the exclusive bargaining agent for all Somerville Police Patrol Officers, including plaintiffs. (Def.'s SMF ¶ 3).

1. The Collective Bargaining Agreement

On November 8, 2007, the City and the union executed a collective bargaining agreement (the "CBA"). (Def.'s Ex. 2 (CBA) at 57). The City and the union modified the CBA in March 2009 and again in November 2011. (Id. at 59-63). The City was represented by experienced labor and employment counsel throughout the negotiations and modifications of the CBA. (Collins Decl. ¶ 3). The union was also represented in the negotiations by counsel. (Id. ). Over the course of the negotiations, neither the City's outside counsel nor the union's counsel suggested that the provisions of the CBA failed to comply with the FLSA. (Id. ¶ 4). The City's then Chief Labor Counsel, Robert Collins, believed that the CBA complied with the law. (Id. ).

The CBA expired on June 30, 2012. (CBA at 61; Buckley Decl. Ex. 3 at 64). It is unclear what happened next, but in 2014, a petition was filed for exercise of jurisdiction before the Joint Labor Management Committee ("JLMC") to reach a successor contract through a form of interest arbitration. (Buckley Decl. Ex. 3 at 64).1 On December 22, 2016, the JLMC issued its decision, modifying certain terms of the CBA and implementing an "evergreen clause," which extended the CBA until the City and the union reach a new agreement. (Id. at 76-77, 114). In January 2019, the City and the union commenced bargaining over the terms of a new CBA. (Cooper Decl. ¶ 9). At the time of the filing of motions for summary judgment, those negotiations were still ongoing. (Id. ).

From May 2014 to the present, the City has paid plaintiffs as specified by the CBA. (First McGrath Aff. ¶ 6).

a. Assignments, Schedules, and Shifts

The CBA governs the assignments, schedules, and shifts of police officers. (CBA Art. VIII §§ 1-3). Non-superior officers may be assigned to the following divisions: (1) patrol; (2) station; (3) neighborhood police; (4) traffic bureau; (5) criminal investigation/detective bureau; and (6) administrative duties/other. (Buckley Decl. Ex. 4). Officers assigned to the patrol, station, and neighborhood police divisions work a "four-and-two" schedule, working four days followed by two days off. (CBA Art. VIII § 2(a)). Officers assigned to the traffic, criminal investigation/detective, or administrative divisions generally work a "five-and-two" schedule, working five consecutive days Monday through Friday with Saturday and Sunday off. (CBA Art. VIII § 2(b)). Officers work one of three eight-hour shifts: (1) day shift (8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.); (2) first half shift (4:00 p.m. to midnight); or (3) last half shift (midnight to 8:00 a.m.). (CBA Art. VIII § 1(a)).

Officers assigned to the patrol and neighborhood divisions attend "[r]oll call immediately prior to the commencement of each work shift or tour of duty, not to exceed fifteen (15) minutes," which is explicitly excluded from the CBA's definition of "overtime service." (CBA Art. VIII § 3(a)(4)). The CBA also refers to that roll call time as "unpaid" and excludes it from its definition of officers' "regular work day." (CBA Art. VIII § 1). At roll call, officers receive information about prior and upcoming shifts and pick their assignments. (Clark Dep. at 21; McDaid Dep. at 61). Officers receive no additional compensation for their time spent attending roll call. (CBA Art. VIII § 1).

b. Compensation

An officer's annual base salary is determined by seniority within the department. (CBA Art. XIX § 1). Each Friday, officers receive 1/52 of their annual base salary, regardless of their actual hours worked in their regularly scheduled shifts. That pay is intended to compensate them for all hours associated with their regularly scheduled shifts during the preceding seven-day period. (Monaco Dep. at 12; Nardone Dep. at 25; Shea Dep. at 49). Officers are compensated based on a seven-day workweek, running from Sunday through Saturday. (Elpidoforos Dep. at 52; McDaid Dep. at 53; McGrath Dep. at 31; Nardone Dep. at 31; Shea Dep. at 50). Officers receive an additional seven percent of their weekly base salary each week "in recognition of their availability to work nights" ("night-availability differential"). (CBA Art. XIX § 2(a)). In addition to the night-availability differential, each officer who works a first-half or last-half shift receives a night differential of $1,000 per year. (CBA Art. XIX § 2(b)). Officers who work a weekend shift receive an additional $7.00 or $6.50 per hour. (CBA Art. XIX § 4(a)-(b)).

Officers who have a degree in law enforcement receive an additional 5% to 12.5% of their weekly base salary, depending on the level of law-enforcement-specific education attained. (CBA Art. XIX § 5(b)). Officers who have an advanced degree in a field other than law enforcement receive an annual bonus between $300 and $500. (CBA Art. XIX § 5(a)). Eligible officers receive an annual weapons-of-mass-destruction stipend of $500. (CBA Art. XIX § 7). Officers receive an annual bonus between $475 and $600 depending on their performance in a weapons-performance examination. (CBA Art. XIX § 6). Officers who have worked for the department for more than five years receive an annual bonus between $200 and $3,900. (CBA Art. XIX § 3). Officers who have worked for the department for more than twenty years receive an additional annual bonus between $800 and $3,200. (CBA Art. XIX § 3(A)).

Officers are compensated for fourteen annual holidays, including their birthdays. (CBA Art. IX § 1). On holidays, officers receive an additional day's pay, computed at one-fourth of their weekly compensation. (CBA Art. IX § 3).

c. Overtime Compensation

All service outside of an officer's regularly scheduled tour of duty or work shift (other than paid police details) is considered overtime service. (CBA Art. VIII § 3; Shea Dep. at 46). Officers performing overtime service receive one-and-a-half times their hourly rate of pay for each hour of overtime service or fraction thereof. (CBA Art. VIII § 5; D'Angeli Dep. at 32-33). The straight-time hourly rate is calculated by dividing the sum of each officer's weekly base salary, educational-incentive payment, and night-availability differential by 40. (Id. ). Overtime service following an officer's regular tour of duty is not compensated unless such overtime service continues beyond the first quarter hour. (CBA Art. VIII § 5). Beyond the first quarter hour, the straight-time hourly rate is computed to the next hour. (CBA Art. VIII § 5).

If an officer misses a regular shift due to vacation, sick time, or personal time, he or she still receives overtime compensation for work performed outside of regular shifts. (Elpidoforos Dep. at 111; McCarey Dep. at 147-48; Monaco Dep. at 139).

Officers are paid a minimum of four hours of overtime compensation if they are recalled to police headquarters or any other place or are placed on a standby basis after their regular work shift. (CBA Art. VIII § 3(b)). Officers are paid a minimum of four hours of overtime compensation for time spent attending court outside of regularly scheduled shifts. (CBA Art. V § 1).

Overtime compensation is paid on a weekly basis. (CBA Art. VIII § 5(b))...

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