Few entities are subject to as many lawsuits as the City of New York, with its millions of occupants and thousands of employees. A recent decision rejects three NYPD police officers’ claims that they should have been paid for time spent in alcohol rehabilitation and counseling sessions. Makinen v. City of New York, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139732 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 30, 2014).
In Makinen, several officers deemed by the NYPD to have alcohol-related issues were ordered to undergo treatment for those issues. The sum and substance of Plaintiffs’ wage-and-hour claim was that, having been ordered to undergo certain therapy and rehabilitation to which they “vigorously objected,” they should have been paid for the time spent in “outpatient rehabilitation sessions, private counseling sessions and AA meetings during their personal time, as well as for hours spent in excess of their normal working hours in mandated meetings and programs during their inpatient treatment.” Judge Andrew Carter disagreed, applying the Second Circuit’s three-pronged test for determining if an activity constituted work: “exertion or loss of an employee’s time that is (1) controlled or required by an employer, (2) pursued necessarily and primarily for the employer’s benefit, and (3) if performed outside the scheduled work time, an integral and indispensable part of the employee’s principal activities.” Judge Carter found this test was not satisfied, ruling that the treatment was not primarily for the City’s benefit but rather for the officers’, and that receiving treatment was not an indispensable part of the officers’ police duties.
All businesses (not just municipalities) must continually analyze the scope of employees’ compensable work time.