Bailey v. United States

In the United States Court of Federal Claims No. 15-995C (Filed: January 10, 2019) ************************************* MICHAEL C. BAILEY et al., * * Plaintiffs, * * Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201- v. * 209; Judgment Fund, 31 U.S.C. § 1304; * RCFC 56; Summary Judgment THE UNITED STATES, * * Defendant. * ************************************* Gregory K. McGillivary, Washington, DC, for plaintiffs. Molly L. Finnan, United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC, for defendant. OPINION AND ORDER SWEENEY, Chief Judge Plaintiffs Michael Bailey and Jason Hughes, employed by the United States Department of Homeland Security as Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) canine handlers, seek payment from defendant for overtime work performed without compensation between 2013 and 2016 pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (“FLSA”), ch. 676, 52 Stat. 1060 (codified as amended at 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219 (2012)). During settlement negotiations, defendant questioned whether it could compensate plaintiffs beyond a cap on overtime payments established in appropriations acts covering the relevant period (collectively, “Appropriations Acts”). The parties filed cross-motions for partial summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56 of the Rules of the United States Court of Federal Claims (“RCFC”) regarding the effect the Appropriations Acts have on plaintiffs’ ability to recover overtime pay pursuant to the FLSA and defendant’s ability to settle such a claim. For the reasons articulated below, the court finds that the Appropriations Acts, which establish a cap on CBP overtime pay, prohibit plaintiffs from receiving overtime payments that exceed $35,000 per annum. I. BACKGROUND On September 19, 2015, eight CBP canine handlers filed suit in this court seeking payment for overtime work performed, but not compensated. See generally Compl. An amended complaint, filed on August 5, 2016, increased the number of plaintiffs to 291. See Am. Compl. 1-13. In the amended complaint, plaintiffs allege that they are or were employees within the meaning of the FLSA pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 203(e)(1), and that CBP is also subject to the FLSA as an employer pursuant to 29 U.S.C. §§ 203(d) and 203(x). Id. ¶¶ 4-5. Plaintiffs further allege that under the terms of the FLSA, as law enforcement officers receiving Administratively Uncontrollable Overtime pay, they are entitled to one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for each hour worked in excess of 85.5 hours in a fourteen-day work period. Id. ¶ 7. According to plaintiffs, CBP failed to properly compute their overtime, caused or suffered them to work in excess of allowable overtime, and, in some cases, instructed them to improperly calculate their hours worked to avoid documenting overtime performed. Id. ¶¶ 12-19. On October 15, 2016, plaintiffs and defendant filed a consent motion to dismiss sixteen plaintiffs from the action. See Consent Mot. to Dismissal of Sixteen Pls. 1. Subsequently, the parties began settlement negotiations, and on June 12, 2018, they jointly stipulated to dismiss an additional 273 plaintiffs whose claims were resolved through settlement. See Joint Stipulation of Dismissal of Two Hundred Seventy-Three (273) Pls. 1. The two remaining ...

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