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BROOKS v. VILLAGE OF RIDGEFIELD PARK

September 15, 1997

ALBERT J. BROOKS, on behalf of himself and others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
VILLAGE OF RIDGEFIELD PARK, NEW JERSEY; AND RIDGEFIELD PARK POLICE DEPARTMENT, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WALLS

 Walls, District Judge

 Plaintiffs have brought this suit against defendants Village of Ridgefield Park and the Village of Ridgefield Park Police Department (collectively the "Village") alleging that defendants failed to make prompt overtime payments in violation of the Fair Labor and Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq. (the " FLSA"). Defendants move pursuant to Rule 56(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 12N for summary judgment. Plaintiffs cross-move for summary judgment on their behalf. Pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Court determines that these motions may be decided without oral argument by counsel. The Court finds that the payment schedule employed by the Village violated the FLSA but declines at this time to award liquidated damages because there exists a genuine issue of material fact concerning whether plaintiffs are entitled to such relief.

 I. Factual and Procedural Background

 On March 8, 1996, plaintiff Brooks, a K-9 officer in the Police Department, filed suit against the Village on behalf of himself and other employees similarly situated alleging that the Village violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by failing to compensate police officers for the time they spent outside normal working hours caring for Village-owned police dogs. The Village of Ridgefield Park is a municipal corporation organized under the laws of the State of New Jersey and maintains a police department pursuant to its municipal authority.

 Between November 1996 and January 1997, seven other Village police officers joined the action as plaintiffs. *fn1" In June 1997, plaintiffs Brooks and Latour, the only K-9 officers and the only parties seeking relief based on the first claim of the Complaint, entered into a settlement agreement with the Village that resolved all of their claims. Thus, the only claim remaining in this lawsuit is the second claim for relief on behalf of the six police officers seeking attorney's fees and liquidated damages for the untimely payment of their overtime compensation in violation of § 207(a).

 Pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement negotiated between the Village and Local 86 of the Policemen's Benevolent Association, the bargaining representative for the officers, plaintiffs were paid overtime on a monthly basis, receiving payment at the end of the second week of the month following when the overtime pay was earned. See Fosdick Certification PP 5-7. There is no dispute that the officers had agreed to this payment schedule in their collective bargaining agreement. On December 1, 1996, the Village began paying overtime weekly to avoid any future disputes concerning the frequency of payments. See id. at P 11. The issue before the Court is whether the provision of the collective bargaining agreement in effect until December 1, 1996 violated § 207(a) of the FLSA, and if it did, whether this violation warrants the award of liquidated damages.

 II. Standard for Summary Judgment

 Summary judgment is appropriate where the moving party establishes that "there is no genuine issue of material fact and that [it] is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The moving party must show that if the evidentiary material of record were reduced to admissible evidence in court, it would be insufficient to permit the non-moving party to carry its burden of proof. Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 318, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986).

 Once the moving party has carried its burden under Rule 56, "its opponent must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts in question." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986). The opposing party must set forth specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial and may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of its pleadings. Sound Ship Building Co. v. Bethlehem Steel Co., 533 F.2d 96, 99 (3d Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 860, 50 L. Ed. 2d 137, 97 S. Ct. 161 (1976).

 At the summary judgment stage the court's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but rather to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). In doing so, the court must construe the facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.

 III. Whether the Overtime Payment Schedule Violates the FLSA

 Section 207(a) of the FLSA states that "no employer shall employ any of his employees . . . for a workweek longer than forty hours, unless such employee receives compensation for his employment in excess of the hours above specified at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which he is employed[.]" Although the FLSA does not specifically mention when such overtime compensation must be provided, the Department of Labor has issued an interpretive regulation on point:

 
The general rule is that overtime compensation earned in a particular workweek must be paid on the regular pay day for the period in which such workweek ends. When the correct amount of overtime compensation cannot be determined until some time after the regular pay period, however, the requirements of the Act will be satisfied if the employer pays the excess overtime compensation as soon after the regular pay period as is practicable. Payment may not be delayed for a period longer than is reasonably necessary for the employer to compute ...

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