Bob Diorio is a human member of the K-9 unit in Tinley Park. In addition to standard cop duties, he’s also responsible for caring for, training, grooming, and transporting his partner, Thor. Thor is a dog.
As part of his compensation, Diorio is given $2,000 a year, as a lump-sum stipend, to take care of the dog. The problem, as many pet owners can attest, is that caring for the dog requires a lot of time. In fact, according to Diorio, it requires so much time that the dog duties, combined with his police work, puts him way over the 40 hours per week threshold for overtime, reports the Courthouse News.
The Fair Labor Standards Act governs such situations. It requires that employers pay their employees time-and-a-half for any hours worked past the 40-hour mark, unless a reasonable alternative agreement is worked out.
Tinley Park is arguing the latter. There is an agreement in place between the union and the Village that the officer’s extra time will be compensated with the $2,000 lump sum per year. Fair enough, said the court, but is it reasonable?
If the $2,000 is broken down into hourly wages, and if Diorio works more than approximately 40 minutes per day outside of his regular duties, he is being compensated less than the minimum wage of $8.25. Plus, if Tinley Park doesn’t compensate Diorio for the dog’s necessities, such as food, water, transport, and veterinarian bills, then the hourly rate for his extra time is even lower.
Whether or not the lump sum is reasonable is going to require a lot of fact-finding. When a matter is a fact-based determination, it is something that must be decided by a jury. More cut and dry issues, such as whether an agreement existed can be decided by a judge.
For now, Officer Diorio’s case lives to see another day.
- Speak to a Chicago Employment Attorney (FindLaw)
- Diorio v. Village of Tinley Park (Memorandum Opinion and Order, U.S. District Court)
- Minimum Wage and Overtime Basics (FindLaw’s Learn About the Law)
- Police Union Files Grievance Over NATO Summit Overtime Pay (FindLaw’s Chicago Employment Law Blog)