DENVER (CBS4) – The city of Denver may have to give police officers more than $7 million worth of comp time.
Initially the lawsuit grabbed a lot of headlines because of the “donning and doffing” portion — whether an officer should get paid to get dressed and undressed. That portion of the litigation was dropped in settlement phase.
Officers say their complaint was always about comp time. They say if they earned it they should be able to take it.
It’s been a 4-year legal battle that began when 852 Denver police officers filed a class action lawsuit against the city. They claimed the city had been violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.
“Officers weren’t able to use their comp time. They could have a bank of 80 hours and never be able to use it,” Fraternal Order of Police President Nick Rogers said.
Rogers said Tuesday’s settlement is a substantial step in the right direction.
Approved by a federal judge, the agreement covers 852 officers. Rather than pay, they will receive 225 hours each of “special compensatory time off.”
The agreement allows more officers to join in the lawsuit that are eligible; on the force as of March 19, 2004.
“This could have been tied up in court for many years, quite frankly. It’s already been in court for four, so it gives you the sense of the cost of litigation alone. So it justifies this settlement,” city attorney Doug Friednasch said.
Friednasch says the ultimate impact of the lawsuit to the city is $1.75 million, the cost of the plaintiff’s legal fees. The money will come from a litigation fund and be paid out over 4 years.
Payment of the legal fees will still have to be approved by the city council. CBS4 was told the lawsuit will bring about operational changes in the department.
It wasn’t the only lawsuit dealing with labor issues. Two nurses have filed a class action lawsuit against Aurora Medical Center because they said they should be paid for the time to get dressed for work.
The nurses are asking to be paid to put on and take off their scrubs, which are not allowed to leave the hospital — a process they say adds 15 minutes to their shift.
The parent company of Aurora Medical Center says their policies comply with all laws.