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Public Employers: Wage and Hour
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore’s role as a leading public sector wage and hour firm began immediately following the 1985 decision of the United States Supreme Court in Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority, a decision that made the FLSA applicable to public sector agencies. Since then, LCW has remained on the cutting edge of the FLSA. We have been active in legislative efforts to mitigate the harsh impact of the FLSA on public agencies. Our attorneys regularly defend public agencies in complex FLSA litigation, including collective actions through all stages of litigation, including jury trials and appeals.
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore is proud of its role as a leading wage and hour/Fair Labor Standards Act firm. LCW has been providing wage and hour/FLSA labor and litigation representation, audit services, advice and counsel, and preventative training to employers across California since 1980.
LCW remains on the cutting edge of wage and hour laws and best management practices, which allows for us to recognize the risks and navigate the challenges our clients face on the full spectrum of wage and hour/FLSA issues from overtime to exemption analysis. Our attorneys have drafted legislation and regularly prepare opinions on nuanced wage and hour issues. Our attorneys have also successfully defended employers in complex wage and hour/FLSA class action and multi-plaintiff lawsuits through all stages of litigation, including jury trials and appeals.
In addition, LCW has extensive experience assisting employers to ensure that their policies and practices comply with wage and hour laws and best management practices through its audit services and preventative training. Our audit services draw on our wide experience from our successful representation of numerous employers in wage and hour/FLSA litigation to provide practical recommendations to achieve compliance. Moreover, our attorneys regularly provide wage and hour preventative trainings for clients, and presentations on timely wage and hour issues at national and statewide conferences. LCW has also developed a comprehensive guide on FLSA compliance: The Fair Labor Standards Act: A Public Sector Compliance Guide.
Our wage and hour services for public employers include:
- Litigation Services
- Wage and Hour / Fair Labor Standards Act Audits
- Labor Relations and Negotiations
- Advice and Counsel
- Preventative Training
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore specializes in representing employers in wage and hour/FLSA actions. Our attorneys have successfully defended employers in complex wage and hour/FLSA class action and multi-plaintiff lawsuits through all stages of litigation, including jury trials and appeals. We are proud of our success at the pre-trial stage. Our attorneys have obtained pre-certification dismissals, summary judgments, and defeated class certifications. LCW has also achieved success at the trial stage, including winning a federal court trial involving overtime claims on behalf of the City of Los Angeles.
Representative matters include:
- Balestrieri et al v. Menlo Park Fire Protection District – firefighters filed a federal lawsuit claiming that the amount of money that the District cashed out to employees for unused time in their “Annual Leave” bank should have been included in the FLSA regular rate of pay calculation, alleging that such payments are akin to unused sick leave. In addition, the firefighters claimed that the District was obligated to pay for time spent traveling between fire stations to pick up and drop off “turnout gear” before and after voluntary overtime shifts. After the District successfully moved for summary judgment on both claims, the firefighters appealed. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s decision and held that under the FLSA, the travel time was not compensable, and the cash outs of annual leave did not have to be included in the regular rate of pay calculation.
- Alaniz v. City of Los Angeles; Mata v. City of Los Angeles – in a collective action of approximately 2,500 police officers claiming that the City did not pay them all overtime allegedly owed, the City successfully decertified the collective action by showing that the plaintiffs’ claims were inherently individualized. As a result, only four plaintiffs remained in these cases, and all others were required to file their own individual lawsuits.
- Farris v. County of Riverside – 150 deputy sheriff plaintiffs filed a lawsuit claiming unpaid FLSA overtime related to donning and doffing and off the clock claims. Once discovery commenced, approximately 60 plaintiffs withdrew from the case, and approximately 90 plaintiffs were left at the time of trial. Judgment was entered in favor of County for FLSA retaliation claims following the jury trial, and judgment entered in part for County (and in part for Plaintiffs) regarding FLSA unpaid overtime claims. After the three-week federal jury trial which took place in 2008, and the two-day bench trial on damages which took place in 2009, and following extensive briefing and damages calculations, judgment was entered in 2011.
- SEIU v. County of Riverside – 131 employees (primarily nurses) from Riverside County Regional Medical Center filed FLSA lawsuit claiming they were improperly classified as exempt employees. Motion for Partial Summary Judgment granted in County’s favor; the court found that the County met the salary basis test for the professional exemption.
- Maciel v. City of Los Angeles – a federal District Court found in favor of the City on all claims after a seven-day trial. The Court found that Maciel failed to present credible evidence supporting his assertion that he worked overtime without reporting it, or that management either knew or should have known that he was not following the Department’s overtime reporting policy. Finally, the Court found that Maciel was not entitled to overtime compensation for his “donning and doffing” activities because the time spent on those activities did not exceed the applicable threshold for overtime compensation.
For more information on these services, please see our Litigation Service Practice page.
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore has extensive experience providing wage and hour/FLSA audits to employers to ensure compliance with wage and hour laws and best management practices. Our audit services draw on our wide experience from our successful representation of numerous employers in wage and hour/FLSA litigation. LCW utilizes a methodical, problem-solving approach to conduct audits. The audit process includes conducting a comprehensive investigation and analysis of written documents and actual practices within the organization and providing practical recommendations to achieve compliance. Our audit services can provide a comprehensive examination of all aspects of wage and hour/FLSA compliance, or tailor the audit to specific departments, classifications or suspected compliance problems.
Liebert Cassidy Whitmore has extensive experience in conducting labor negotiations, having successfully negotiated thousands of labor agreements for employers. In addition, LCW provides consultation and guidance concerning negotiations strategy to staff personnel who handle employer negotiations. Our labor relations and negotiations specialists draw on our firm’s collective legal expertise in wage and hour/FLSA to effectively prepare and negotiate labor agreement provisions related to wage and hour issues. For more information on these services, please see our Labor Relations Practice page.
Our attorneys work with clients as their trusted advisors, exploring practical options to best serve the client’s goals. Because of LCW’s expertise in wage and hour laws, our attorneys are able to recognize nuanced risks and provide practical and innovative solutions to the challenges our clients face on the full spectrum of wage and hour/FLSA issues from overtime to exemption analysis. Our attorneys have written dozens of opinion letters and have also defended clients in audits conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor on wage and hour issues. We also assist agencies with the design and modification of payroll systems in order to achieve full compliance with wage and hour laws.
Our firm regularly presents training programs on compliance with wage and hour laws and has continuously done so since 1980. We provide specialized and customized trainings for clients on nuanced wage and hour issues. We also regularly provide wage and hour presentations at conferences, including:
- National Public Employer Labor Relations Association (NPELRA)
- California Public Employer Labor Relations Association (CalPELRA)
- California Special Districts Association (CSDA)
- Southern California Labor Relations Council
- Southern California Personnel Management Association
- Los Angeles County City Attorney’s Association
- Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA).
LCW publishes The Fair Labor Standards Act: A Public Sector Compliance Guide, which is a comprehensive guide to FLSA in the public sector. Our firm has also updated the FLSA section in the California League of Cities Municipal Law Handbook. We serve as a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Thompson Publishing Group’s Fair Labor Standards Handbook For States, Local Governments & Schools. We have also developed an FLSA audit workshop for our employment relations consortium clients, whose membership includes hundreds of public agencies in California.
- SAN FRANCISCO
- LOS ANGELES
- SAN DIEGO