On January, 22, 2009, The East Valley Tribune, based in Phoenix, Arizona reported that The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association (PLEA) lost its federal lawsuit against the City of Phoenix, Arizona that sought pay for officers to put on and take off uniforms and protective equipment.
The Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, which represents about 2,200 sworn officers, lost the civil lawsuit against the city which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Phoenix, Arizona. The issue, commonly referred to as "donning and doffing", has been an important issue with not only police officers in Phoenix, Arizona, but also law enforcement officials and public safety officers through out the country. In its ruling, the court stated that the Phoenix Police Department’s policy generally does not provide for compensation to sworn personnel for time spent donning and doffing their uniforms and gear outside the scheduled work shift.
The ruling comes as the Mesa Police Association, representing about 600 sworn officers, is moving forward with appeals in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and the Arizona Court of Appeals.
In an interview with the East Valley Tribune, Fabian Cota, President of the Mesa and Arizona police associations stated that "The issue is a little more complicated than just taking your pants on and off…This is a legitimate Fair Labor Standards Act issue. There are issues here regarding pay, and what is work and what isn’t, and that needs to be determined through the court." Cota further stated that "There is no uniformity or consistency in the court’s decisions on the issue since courts in other states have ruled for police departments that an officer’s work day begins when they start putting on their uniforms and equipment".
As this issue develops further throughout the country will will keep our readers updated as this issue is important as it pertains to pay, and potentially overtime pay, for law enforcement and public safety officers through out the state of New Jersey.