Police Want Pay For Time Spent Donning Uniform

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AZScanner

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What next? Fast food employees suing for having to wash their hands? OK now I understand that being a cop is a rough job and there's alot of equipment to put on and hassle involved just to get suited up and ready for duty but COME ON! According to the article, the average Phoenix PD officer makes $33 an hour. That ain't chump change! For $33 an hour I'd invest 30 minutes a day of my own time into it, wouldn't you? Curious what others here think of this. Here's the article, as seen on http://www.kpho.com/news/16377348/detail.html?rss=pho&psp=news

PHOENIX -- Nearly 600 Phoenix police officers have filed suit in an attempt to force the city to pay them for the time they spend getting in uniform each day.

Attorney John Commerford, representing the officers, said they spend considerable time getting dressed for each shift.

"It's the way officers have to get dressed and have to maintain and care for all that equipment," Commerford said. "And the list of equipment is something like 30 pieces long. All of that has to be maintained, and no officer is being paid for it. And the city of Phoenix will tell you flat out, they don't believe they need to."

The officers are seeking $18 million, which includes back pay, damages, attorneys' fees and court costs. Commerford said the suit could go to trial by November.

Commerford said the officers must put on their protective gear and carry other equipment "because you're not going to stop if someone says, 'Halt, police,' and they're not looking like a cop."

He adds, "It's not just putting on their clothes. It's putting on their uniforms. There are a multitude of pieces of this uniform and not only does the uniform have to be put on, but it has to be adjusted. The ballistic vests, for instance. Those have to be adjusted every day and that takes time."

Commerford said it's not only about getting dressed and undressed.

"There's a long, long list of equipment and every day -- every day -- these officers have to make sure it's in exactly the order that the city requires that it be."

A claim letter filed with the city in July 2007 said, on average, uniformed police employees spend 30 minutes per work day, donning, doffing and caring for their uniforms and protective equipment. Based on the average regular rate of pay for a uniformed officer, $33.90 per hour, it said the overtime rate would be $50.85. The letter said the officers' unpaid overtime amounts to $5.9 million and they are entitled to treble damages, bringing the total to $17.7 million.

"For the entire period of time that the lawsuit relates to, these people have been putting on and taking off their uniforms unpaid. What we want to have happen is to have those police officers paid for the time that they spent," Commerford said. "What would be the necessary corollary to this lawsuit is that going forward in time, these officers would be paid for this necessary activity."
-AZ
 

bpckty1

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The officers get compensated in other ways:

The city owns the uniforms and accessories. If they want to be paid for the time spent dressing, then they should purchase the uniforms so it can be considered personal property and not city's property for which they have assumed care, custody, and control. What's next, sending the city the dry cleaning bills? Along with the job's risks, it is an expense they assumed when taking the job. They get compensated in other ways, such as not having to pay for in-service training, which can be very expensive.

I just don't see where they can force the city to pay for their "dressing time", unless they pay the city for allowing them to "undress".
 

RolnCode3

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It's called doffing and donning.

And the reason it usually comes up is because the agency will require you to be in full uniform with equipment at the start of shift. Which requires about 5-10 minutes to do.

But some agencies also prohibit you from wearing the uniform to and from work. Even if it's not prohibited, it's generally considered a very bad idea and frowned upon by officers.

So now, you're basically required to be 5-10 minutes early, just so that you can be on time. Some places go further and require your vehicle be ready to go at beginning of shift. I've heard of some officers that would wind up spending 30-45 minutes before shift...just to be on time for work.

If you want to volunteer your time to your employer that's your prerogative. I am here to earn money for the work I do. Just sayin'.
 

AZScanner

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RolnCode3 said:
So now, you're basically required to be 5-10 minutes early, just so that you can be on time. Some places go further and require your vehicle be ready to go at beginning of shift. I've heard of some officers that would wind up spending 30-45 minutes before shift...just to be on time for work.

If you want to volunteer your time to your employer that's your prerogative. I am here to earn money for the work I do. Just sayin'.
Yeah Bill but really, what's next? If they are given this, then some other lawyer (or maybe the same one) will sue for the cost of drycleaning or the time each officer has to spend in the shower (can't show up for work all unshaven and unkempt, right?) Everyone, from a fry cook at McD's to the CEO of a fortune 500 has to come to work dressed in proper attire, clean and presentable - and must do so on their own time, off the clock. Why should a police officer be compensated for what everyone else does for free?

Police work is hard and cops deserve every penny of the money they earn but this is basically paying them to get dressed, regardless of what some sleazebag lawyer says (He's only looking at his share of that 18 million anyway, which is more than any of the cops he's reperesenting will see in a lifetime). Also he fails to mention that, unlike other departments, PPD issues you EVERYTHING (well, except shoes) free of charge.

I still think it's a sham. Give these cops a Stella Award.

-AZ
 

torontokris

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I respect officers too but I agree with AZScanner

Next people will be asking for money when they put their construction uniform on, or maybe shirt n tie. I sure spend more then 30 minutes getting ready for work.

I have to be ready to go right at 9am too. And am normally at work far after 5pm.
 

zz0468

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They should get paid from the minute they report to work. If that means to the locker room to don their uniforms, then pay 'em. The difference between them and civilians is that they generally DON'T put them on at home on their own time. They have to get ready there, too, just to head out the door.

No, these guys have to report to work, get dressed in their uniform, check their equipment, and be ready when their time clock starts at the beginning of their patrol shift. In any other profession, that prep time is done on the company's dime.
 

RolnCode3

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I know of one agency that DOES provide free dry-cleaning for uniforms. You want professional appearance, you get it.

You can do the "What's next" and by that I can make anything up. It's whether THIS is reasonable or not. 50 years ago safety retirement seemed unthinkable. People worked till 65 or older, right? Times change.
 

torontokris

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I know a teacher who goes home and grades papers for 4 hours, thats NOT done on company time either. I know a nurse who puts in an hour a day of extra time.
Im not a general civilian either yet I have to "prep" for work as well far before and after my shift.

I respect cops as much as anyone but my question I guess was why should cops get special treatment for prep time to put on thier uniform "these guys" as you call them, shouldnt be above everyone else in terms of "prep time" just because they are cops.
 

AZScanner

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RolnCode3 said:
I know of one agency that DOES provide free dry-cleaning for uniforms. You want professional appearance, you get it.

You can do the "What's next" and by that I can make anything up. It's whether THIS is reasonable or not. 50 years ago safety retirement seemed unthinkable. People worked till 65 or older, right? Times change.
Well I'm not a cop so I'll defer to someone who is. But I can see all sorts of "what's next" lawsuits following this one if it succeeds - like how about all the cops who retired without this compensation? If these 600 get it, they could also sue and that settlement will make this one look like chump change. Meanwhile it's the citizens of Phoenix who suffer while all sorts of programs are slashed or done away with completely to pay the lawyers and all their clients. And what about the reserve officers who not only "doff and don" on their own time but work entire shifts unpaid? Shouldn't they be entitled to some compensation too? The answer is no - they knew going in that they were volunteers, and these 600 cops knew going in that they would have to arrive early to work so they'd be ready at the start of their shift. I seriously doubt they arrive fresh from the academy not knowing this and being all surprised about it - and if it's really such a terrible thing there are plenty of other departments here in the valley that are hiring, including DPS - who not only let you dress at home but you can take your patrol car home too.

-AZ
 

torontokris

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Although our opinions differ on the 796, I agree with you here 100%

AZScanner said:
But I can see all sorts of "what's next" lawsuits following this one if it succeeds - like how about all the cops who retired without this compensation? If these 600 get it, they could also sue and that settlement will make this one look like chump change. Meanwhile it's the citizens of Phoenix who suffer while all sorts of programs are slashed or done away with completely to pay the lawyers and all their clients. And what about the reserve officers who not only "doff and don" on their own time but work entire shifts unpaid? Shouldn't they be entitled to some compensation too? The answer is no - they knew going in that they were volunteers, and these 600 cops knew going in that they would have to arrive early to work so they'd be ready at the start of their shift. I seriously doubt they arrive fresh from the academy not knowing this and being all surprised about it - and if it's really such a terrible thing there are plenty of other departments here in the valley that are hiring, including DPS - who not only let you dress at home but you can take your patrol car home too.

-AZ
 

SAR923

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I've been on both ends of the spectrum as a full-time deputy and as a reserve. There's a huge difference. When I was full-time, I wanted to get paid for ALL the time I spent on the job. We were not allowed to wear our uniforms and equipment to work. We had to change out of street clothes, put on our body armor, put on our uniforms, change to duty shoes, put on a tie if it was a winter uniform, then struggle with getting your Sam Browne on, with all the attendant adjusting things so they were in the right place and getting the keepers so they actually worked as keepers. This took a good 15 minutes before and after shift. I had no choice in how I dressed, I had to meet department standards. Working free for a half-hour a day is not frivolous. Employees are entitled to compensation when performing duties required by their employer.

As a reserve, I expected and got no pay. I knew I had to show up 15 minutes early to get all my gear on but I did understand that going in. That's a big difference from having paid employees spending time at work for free. Our full timers got an extra half-hour's reporting pay and I never thought it was unfair just because I was a reserve and not getting paid.

One more thing. Just because an attorney has filed a lawsuit, it doesn't mean he will prevail. It all depends on what the labor laws of Arizona have to say about the situation.
 

af5rn

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RolnCode3 said:
But some agencies also prohibit you from wearing the uniform to and from work. Even if it's not prohibited, it's generally considered a very bad idea and frowned upon by officers.
I think that is pretty much a regional thing, and certainly not a nationwide practice. In the South and across Middle America, it seems that most cops wear their uniforms to and from work, unless they personally choose not to. I always did. I never worked anyplace that had a formal locker room for changing. In Kalifornia I have seen cops wearing uniforms to and from work too, but it does seem much less common there than elsewhere. From what I have seen in my travels, up in the North East and Rust Belt, they tend to dress at work instead of home. Personally, I'd rather dress at home and show up ready to go, but hey... whatever works. I just certainly never expected to get paid for it. And puhleeze... most of those items are already on your belt. It's not like it takes significant time to place each one on your body before work. Those guys in AZ are seriously overstating their case.
 

iMONITOR

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This is what happens when people belong to unions. This is one of the reasons so many of our jobs are being outsourced...to people who don't make such demands.

I know a lot of police officers, and typically in the course of their day they make up for that lost time, and then some, taking care of personal business. So I'd say it's a wash. If they force the issue then the department might start putting GPS monitors on their vehicles to make sure they're where they should be all the time. So they should be careful what they ask for.
 
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bpckty1

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If they have MDTs and a SmartZone system, or if the MDTs are connected to one of the wireless providers, the PD already has a type of GPS. How well it is understood and used by supervisors is a different story.
 

Thaellar

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Be careful what you wish for

If the lawsuit is won by the police, Phoenix will probably calculate how many officers they should layoff to pay for the suit and tell the department to take good care of what they have because no new equipment or pay increases will be approved for many years.

Thaellar
 

car2back

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GreatLakes said:
This is what happens when people belong to unions. This is one of the reasons so many of our jobs are being outsourced...to people who don't make such demands.
God forbid people get compensated for the time and effort they are expected to give to an employer :roll: As a little guy at a non-union department that regularly gets hosed by the city, I thing they should fight for what ever they can! Just because you can cite examples of people who work for no pay, doesn't mean everyone should bow down to the almighty boss and do it: If I was treated with more respect and felt more valued, I wouldn't feel so bad about letting something slide every once and awhile. I'm sure the same applies to these officers.
 
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af5rn

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car2back said:
Just because you can cite examples of people who work for no pay, doesn't mean everyone should bow down to the almighty boss and do it...
Bow down? It's not like they are looking to catch up with everybody else, to receive a fair compensation package. These guys are asking for something that nobody else gets. It's typical union nonsense. They throw out these totally ridiculous demands that they know they have no case for, just to throw fuel on the fire for future negotiations. Screw em. There are a dozen applicants waiting for each and every one of their jobs. They are disposable. Love the job or leave it.
 

car2back

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af5rn said:
Bow down? It's not like they are looking to catch up with everybody else, to receive a fair compensation package. These guys are asking for something that nobody else gets. It's typical union nonsense. They throw out these totally ridiculous demands that they know they have no case for, just to throw fuel on the fire for future negotiations. Screw em. There are a dozen applicants waiting for each and every one of their jobs. They are disposable. Love the job or leave it.
Love it or leave it- great attitude! That's why there's such a high turn over at places who don't value their employees and see them as "disposable". Until people stand up against that, it will never change! Look at how labor used to go back in the 1910s; good thing people working for little to nothing didn't have your attitude! If these officers are required to be at work in order to get in uniform, why not get paid for it? Time worked= time paid in my book.

Hell how about we work out a deal with your employer where you have to come in 30mins earlier everyday without pay? :confused: It sucks getting crapped on by the place you devote a majority of your time to.
 
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Austin4Wyo

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af5rn said:
Bow down? It's not like they are looking to catch up with everybody else, to receive a fair compensation package. These guys are asking for something that nobody else gets. It's typical union nonsense. They throw out these totally ridiculous demands that they know they have no case for, just to throw fuel on the fire for future negotiations. Screw em. There are a dozen applicants waiting for each and every one of their jobs. They are disposable. Love the job or leave it.
Yeah, darn commies and their damned unions! RED POWER! RED POWER! Put the shoe in the window of the men's room!

(just for reference, this post is reeking of sarcasm)
 
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