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|Framingham cops lose appeal on overtime pay||March 19, 2010|
|Dan McDonald 508-626-4416||Metrowest Daily News|
|FRAMINGHAM -- About 100 police officers lost an appeal that challenged the notion that the town had lawfully established an overtime work cycle. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit sided with the town in a ruling dated March 17, affirming a previous federal court ruling and sided with the town. The decision had significant financial ramifications for Framingham. Town Counsel Chris Petrini estimates the town could have taken a $1.5 million to $2 million hit if the court found in favor of the police officers. "This decision by the First Circuit is a major victory for the taxpayers of the town of Framingham, particularly in the midst of these very challenging fiscal times," said Petrini yesterday. The matter could be rehashed at the First Circuit level or appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, though both appeals would have to meet "challenging standards," said Petrini. Police officers are evaluating whether to take the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, said their attorney, Jack Canzoneri. "It's not out of the question," said the Southborough attorney. The plaintiffs, about 100 Framingham Police officers, were seeking overtime pay from a three-year stretch. The police say the town did not calculate their wages correctly, failing to include shift differential, holiday differential, hazardous duty pay, fingerprint, photography and Breathalyzer pay, among others. The 24-day work cycle established in 1986 means police have to work 147 hours during that time before overtime kicks in. That makes it more difficult to accrue overtime pay. Under the previous cycle, police "are much more likely to work five, six, seven days in a row," to reach the overtime threshold, Petrini said. Canzoneri argues that the town never properly established a 24-day pay period. And pay has been incorrectly calculated, said Canzoneri. He said the officers were not properly notified of the change in work cycle. Canzoneri said the plaintiff's argument focused not necessarily on a "formal notice," but on the need for basic information, such as how overtime is calculated and accrued, to be conveyed to employees. It never was, he said. "A lot of time and effort went into the appeal and we're disappointed that the court skirted our key argument, the crux of our appeal," said Canzoneri. Petrini called the ruling a "significant decision for the state as a whole." "It lends some clarity to the issue," said Petrini.|
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