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HARRISON v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

October 21, 1987

Ransom Harrison, et al., Plaintiffs
v.
District Of Columbia, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HOGAN

 Thomas F. Hogan, United States District Judge.

 Plaintiffs, several hundred employees of the government of the District of Columbia, brought this action under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-209 (1982) (FLSA), alleging failure to comply with the overtime provisions of the Act. The District admits that until the first pay period of September, 1987, it unlawfully failed to include such premiums as shift differential and hazardous duty pay in the "regular rate" of pay on which overtime compensation was based. At issue is the extent of the District's liability for back wages, damages, interest, attorney's fees, and costs under 29 U.S.C. § 216(b). Upon consideration of the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment as to liability, defendants' response, the entire record in this matter, and oral argument of counsel, the Court shall grant plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, as more particularly specified herein.

 BACKGROUND

 This lawsuit has its origins in the Supreme Court's decisions in National League of Cities v. Usery, 426 U.S. 833, 49 L. Ed. 2d 245, 96 S. Ct. 2465 (1976), and the case that overturned it, Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority, 469 U.S. 528, 83 L. Ed. 2d 1016, 105 S. Ct. 1005 (1985). In 1974, Congress amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to reach state and local governments, including the District of Columbia, which is defined as a state in 29 U.S.C. § 203(c) ("'State' means any State of the United States or the District of Columbia or any Territory or possession of the United States.").

 In 1976, the Supreme Court determined that this attempt to exercise Commerce Clause powers failed in the face of the tenth amendment's reservation of powers to the states. National League of Cities v. Usery, 426 U.S. 833, 49 L. Ed. 2d 245, 96 S. Ct. 2465 (1976). The question then arose whether the District of Columbia, like the states in their exercise of traditional government functions, was excluded from the FLSA by National League of Cities. The question was answered in Association of Court Reporters v. Superior Court, 424 F. Supp. 90 (D.D.C. 1976) (Parker, J.).

 Judge Parker held that the overtime pay provisions of the FLSA did not apply to the District of Columbia in light of National League of Cities. 424 F. Supp. at 93. His ruling was not based on a theory that the District was a state for purposes of the tenth amendment. Rather, his opinion appears grounded in the conclusion that Congress intended to treat the District like a state for most purposes. His logic appeared to be that Congress would not have wanted the FLSA to extend to the District if it could not reach the states and local governments:

 
While it may be too much to read into that opinion [ National League of Cities ] that the District of Columbia is a state for purposes of the FLSA, there are persuasive arguments against its applicability here. The 1973 D.C. Self Government and Reorganization Act, for example, was enacted with the express purpose of granting D.C. residents the power of self government and to reorganize their local government with an eye toward ". . . reliev[ing] Congress of the burden of legislating upon essentially local District matters." 1 D.C. Code § 121(a). It is instructive that the Court observed in National League of Cities that the determination of policy relative to employer-employee relationships was traditionally a local matter. That same Act allows the District Government to participate with the federal government on the same basis as a state with respect to public employment services and claims filed by D.C. government employees under the Federal Employment Compensation Act.
 
Certain provisions of the D.C. Court Reorganization Act of 1970 further evidence Congress' intent to afford the District sovereignty in this area.

 424 F. Supp. at 93 (footnotes omitted).

 The Supreme Court overruled National League of Cities when it handed down Garcia on February 19, 1985. Congress, aware of potential hardship that might result from immediate application of the FLSA to state and local governments, adopted amendments that delayed application of the Act to the states until April 15, 1986. Pub. L. No. 99-150, § 2(c)(1), 99 Stat. 788 (1985). In addition, Congress delayed the requirement for actual payment of overtime compensation until August 1, 1986. Pub. L. No. 99-150, § 2(c)(2), 99 Stat. 789 (1985). The House Report explained the purpose of the amendments:

 
The Committee has deferred application of the Act's overtime provisions until exactly one year after the mandate in Garcia so that state and local governments may make appropriate adjustments in their work practices, staffing patterns, and fiscal priorities. Further, because many state and local governments begin their fiscal years on July 1, the amendments allow actual payment of monetary overtime compensation to be delayed until August 1, 1986 without penalty. Liability, however, in all instances will commence on April 15, 1986.

 H.R. Rep. No. 331, 99th Cong., 1st Sess. 27 (1985) (emphasis added). The Senate report states a similar rationale for the lead-time amendment. See S. Rep. No. 159, 99th Cong., 1st Sess. 8 (1985).

 The penalty provision referred to in the reports is set forth at 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) and provides that an employer who violates the overtime provisions and is sued by the employee "shall be liable to the employee or employees affected in the amount of the unpaid . . . overtime compensation . . . and in an additional equal amount as liquidated damages." Additionally, § 216(b) provides, "The court in such action shall, in addition to any judgment awarded to the ...


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