LOS ANGELES (CN) - In a dozen lawsuits, hundreds of Los Angeles police officers claim the city violates fair labor standards by making them work through meal breaks and stiffing them for overtime.
Hundreds of unionized police officers sued the city in Federal Court on Monday, in closely related complaints.
The officers had joined other plaintiffs in two fair labor complaints against the city. The new lawsuits were filed after judges decertified the lawsuits, Roberto Alaniz vs. City of Los Angeles, et al.,
and Cesar Mata vs. City of Los Angeles et al
., and dismissed the "opt-in" plaintiffs' claims.
In the latest string of lawsuits, the officers claim the LAPD makes them work through meal breaks, and deducts the so-called "Code 7" breaks from their wages.
The unlawful deductions cause the LAPD to lowball overtime wages by "reducing the hours worked in the gap," the officers say.
Nor does the LAPD take into account the time officers need to prepare or finish arrest reports or preliminary investigation reports, the complaints add.
"Time spent before and/or after watch for the benefit of the LAPD was not compensated, when it should have been, at the proper overtime rate as required under FLSA [Fair Labor Standards Act]," the July 22 complaints say.
The officers say the city treats other jobs, such as preparing for roll call, signing arrest warrants and accounting for personnel, as unpaid tasks rather than overtime.
"Though defendants were aware that plaintiffs performed this compensable work, plaintiffs were never compensated for these additional hours of work. Plaintiffs also were expected and required to complete assigned tasks/reports within a limited amount of time. Therefore, plaintiffs worked, but were not compensated, for their labors," a typical lawsuit states.
Citations in this article are from Ismael Aldaz Sr. et al. v. Los Angeles.
According to the officers, the city knows police work after watch without pay because the practice is "widespread" and has gone on for years.
"Moreover, plaintiffs' managers and supervisors were fully aware that plaintiffs started work early to prepare for roll call because plaintiffs' supervisors pursuant to the policy of the LAPD and/or either pressured or ordered them to start work early to prepare for roll call, and often engaged in the preparation for roll call alongside them," the complaint states.
The LAPD does not train its officers to recognize overtime tasks and log them accordingly, according to the complaint.
"Defendant received the benefit of plaintiffs' work without the significant cost of paying plaintiffs for overtime hours worked," the complaint states. "This benefit to the employer, however, was only achieved by creating illegal procedures that denied plaintiffs compensation for missed Code 7's and persuading plaintiffs and other officers that they should unknowingly work overtime by failing to train them and thus not be compensate them for their time or to work overtime by withholding training on what is or is not overtime."
The nonparty Los Angeles Police Protective League represents 9,900 LAPD officers. Union spokesman Eric Rose declined to comment on the lawsuits.
The plaintiffs seek actual, consequential, liquidated, and incidental losses and damages.
They are represented by Gregory Petersen of Newport Beach.