On March 17, 2010, the First Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision in Calvao v. Framingham, First Cir. Case No. 09-1648, affirming summary judgment for the town of Framingham, Massachusetts.
Framingham police officers filed a class suit against their employer, claiming that the town had failed to pay sufficient overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The plaintiffs asked that the district court issue declaratory judgment that Framingham was not eligible for the FLSA’s public safety exemption because the town failed to give notice to affected employees. Under the FLSA, nonexempt employees other than public safety personnel are generally entitled to payment “at a rate not less than one and one-half times” their regular wages for any time worked in excess of 40 hours in a seven day period. However, the public safety exemption sets a higher threshold number of hours that must be worked in a 28 day work period, or a proportional number of hours in a shorter work period of at least seven days, before public safety personnel are entitled to overtime compensation. The Secretary of Labor set the limit for law enforcement personnel to 171 hours over a 28 day period, or about 43 hours every seven days.
In affirming the district court’s decision to grant summary judgment to the town of Framingham, the court of appeals first discussed the history of the exemption at issue. The court emphasized that nothing in the relevant statute specifies that a public employer is required to provide notice to employees. Furthermore, the court’s review of the legislative history of the exemption revealed that Congress explicitly rejected a proposal that would have mandated employee agreement before the exemption was adopted. Based on its analysis, the court specifically rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that Framingham was not eligible for the public safety exemption because it had not given notice to the police officers’ union or individual police officers prior to adopting the exemption.