I must admit, I laughed when I read this one.
According to BLR’s “HR Strange But True”:
The case involved nonexempt EEOC investigators, mediators, and paralegals who said they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. The employees argued that the agency violated the FLSA and a collective bargaining agreement by failing to pay them overtime pay.
The agency argued that it had fulfilled its obligation by giving the employees compensatory time. Compensatory time allows employees to take paid time off instead of being paid the overtime premium. Only public-sector employers can offer compensatory time. Federal regulations specifically prohibit federal agencies from requiring that an employee be compensated for overtime work with compensatory time off.
Not good enough, said the arbitrator. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the aforementioned arbitrator also stated that this was not an accidental slip up on the EEOC’s part.
“While agency policies from headquarters surely purported to set forth a framework for proper action under the FLSA, it was equally clear that, in virtually every agency office here represented, express policies were in place that were in derogation of that framework,” the arbitrator wrote. “This action was not inadvertent, and, both by documents and by supervisory instructions, conveyed to employees that an FLSA entitlement to overtime pay, if excess hours qualified for it, would not be available under any circumstance.”
Ouch. But at least the EEOC has vowed to look at its overtime practices and change where necessary.
Good to hear. After all, that’s what all of us would be expected to do. Why should they be any different?
The full text of the arbitrator’s ruling can be found here.