9th Circuit upholds decertification of LAPD officers' collective actions over overtime pay allegations

By Mary Ann Magnell | Sep 18, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal appeals court affirmed a district court’s decertification of two related collective Fair Labor Standards Act actions that were brought against the city of Los Angeles by Los Angeles Police Department officers alleging that the department “discouraged the reporting of overtime.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld Sept. 13 the decision of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

"The district court granted the city’s motion for decertification and dismissed the officers without prejudice to refiling their FLSA claims individually," the opinion states.

“Absent substantial evidence that the city fostered or tolerated a tacit, systemic policy against the reporting of overtime, there is no genuine dispute of fact as to the only allegation the party plaintiffs have cited as a basis for proceeding in Department-wide collective,” wrote Judge Marsha Berzon of the U.S. District Court for the 9th Circuit.

The 9th Circuit’s decision held that the officers “failed, as a matter of law, to create a triable question of fact regarding the existence of a department-wide policy or practice. In the absence of such a policy or practice, and in the absence of allegations of any other similarity of law or fact material to the disposition of the officers’ claims, the officers were not 'similarly situated' within the meaning of the FLSA."

The two similar cases, Daniel Campbell et al. v. the city of Los Angeles and Cesar Mata and Richard D. Alba, et al. v. the City of Los Angeles arose from collective actions that were filed under alleged violations of the FLSA. 

According to the filing, between 2004 and 2009, roughly 2,500 officers of the LAPD opted into two collective actions “alleging a pervasive, unwritten policy discouraging the reporting of overtime,” the opinion states.

If any officers were denied pay for their overtime, according to the city, “it was due to unrelated instances of worksite- and supervisor-specific misconduct, rather than a single, department-wide policy or practice,” the opinion states.

Berzon also noted that although the officers’ declarations were “creditable evidence of unpaid overtime, when it comes to the issue of a department-wide policy, they run up against the city’s overwhelming evidence of widespread FLSA compliance.”

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit case number 15-56990 

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