- Dec 19, 2002
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
-AZPHOENIX -- 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."