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Legal Alert: Paying Police Employees: Eleventh Circuit Rules Certain Prep And Travel Time Is Not Compensable

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal recently ruled that Sheriff’s deputies are not entitled to compensation for time spent donning and doffing their equipment or driving to work in their marked patrol vehicles.

In the consolidated cases of Llorca v. Sheriff, Collier County, Florida, Case No. 17-10616, and Calderone v. Scott, Case No. 17-11377 (11th Cir. June 27, 2018), the Federal Appellate Court for the Eleventh Circuit (within which Florida falls) held that the Sheriffs were not required under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act or the Florida Minimum Wage Act to pay overtime to Sheriff’s deputies for time spent: (1) donning and doffing police gear; and (2) driving to and from work in marked patrol vehicles.

The plaintiffs were road patrol deputies and detectives who were required to arrive for their shifts wearing their uniforms and standard police protective gear, which they donned and doffed at home. The plaintiffs also commuted to and from work in marked patrol vehicles. The Sheriffs paid the plaintiffs for any time during their commute spent responding to calls or actually enforcing traffic laws but did not otherwise compensate them for time spent driving, listening to their radios, and observing the roads for traffic violations. Plaintiffs claimed that they should have been paid for this time because these activities were necessary for the performance of their jobs.

The court ultimately held that these activities were not “integral and indispensable.” Although donning and doffing protective gear might arguably be “indispensable,” the court held that it was not “integral” to the plaintiffs’ principal activities because the protective gear is not “an intrinsic element of law enforcement.” The plaintiffs’ time spent commuting to and from work in marked patrol vehicles was similarly not compensable. 

All employers should be mindful of their compensation practices and should ensure that they comply with federal and state law, particularly because prevailing plaintiffs in wage cases may be entitled to the recovery of double the amount of any lost wages as well as reimbursement of their attorneys’ fees.  

If you have any questions about this or any other labor/employment issue, please feel free to reach out to your firm contact or Brett J. Schneider (bschneider@wsh-law.com) at (561) 835-2111 or Michael S. Kantor (mkantor@wsh-law.com) at (954) 763-4242.

Categories: Labor and Employment
Tags: Fort Lauderdale Labor Law Attorneys