In an ironic twist and after a decade of wrangling, the Department of Labor has agreed to pay $7 million to resolve the American Federation of Government Employees’ (AFGE) overtime grievance under the FLSA for off-the-clock work and induced overtime. The dispute began in 2006, when the union filed a collective action-type grievance on behalf of the entire bargaining unit, according to a press release issued by the union’s attorneys. Employees said they were being forced to work overtime without being properly compensated, including for off-the-clock work for FLSA-covered employees and induced overtime for others. The settlement covers both past and current employees. A large part of the settlement is allocated to back pay and to compensate employees who, in some cases, worked overtime hours for years without compensation. The irony of the grievance and its ultimate resolution is immediately apparent because the DOL, of course, is charged with enforcing the FLSA and related regulations, including overtime provisions, against private employers. “You cannot begin to imagine how difficult it was to challenge and then fight the Department of Labor for ten years over its own failure to adhere to these laws and failure to properly compensate its own employees—but that’s what exactly what our Union did—successfully,” declared AFGE Local 12 Union President Alex Bastani. “We will not stand by and let our workers get shortchanged. It is deeply disappointing that both Secretary Chao and Secretary Solis were unwilling to abide by their own regulations when it came to paying their employees; it is sad that a decent and hard-working public servant like Secretary Perez has to clean up their mess.” “We are pleased the Department of Labor ultimately accepted liability,” said the union’s attorney, Michael J. Snider, Esq., of Snider & Associates, adding that “this settlement will help ensure that the Agency follows the same laws it enforces.”
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