06/20/2005

Supreme court declines to hear Ohio lawsuit over police overtime pay

WASHINGTON- The Supreme Court declined Monday to consider whether cities can deny a police officer's request for compensatory time off solely to avoid paying overtime to substitute officers.

Without comment, justices let stand a lower court ruling ordering the compensation. The Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association said the city's refusal to grant the time off violated the rights of officers under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Cleveland officials argued it shouldn't have to accommodate the requests under the federal law if doing so would impose a financial burden or otherwise result in "undue disruption" of the city's police services.

The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. It ruled that courts must defer to the U.S. Labor Department's position that payment of overtime to grant an officer's request for compensatory time off would not be disruptive.

The city of Cleveland urged justices to hear the case, saying police services in cities within the 6th Circuit's jurisdiction _ Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky _ will suffer if the lower court ruling is allowed to stand. The added expenses will prevent cash-strapped cities from providing effective police protection, it said.

The case is Cleveland v. Beck, 04-1416.

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