An arbitrator has ruled that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) practice of giving comp time to employees who worked extra hours didn’t meet the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The ruling stems from a 2006 grievance protesting the EEOC’s reclassification of certain investigators and mediators as exempt from overtime under the FLSA.
The arbitrator had issued an earlier, interim decision returning all but one group of employees to non-exempt status. The issue in this decision was whether the EEOC had “suffered and permitted” employees in non-exempt positions to work overtime without offering them a choice between extra pay or comp time.
The arbitrator agreed with the EEOC’s position with respect to those working a flexible schedule, but he determined that most other investigators, mediators, and paralegals in non-exempt status should have been given an option of receiving overtime pay rather than just compensatory time off.
Acting EEOC Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru stated, “The EEOC offered compensatory time off to any employee who worked extra hours, but the arbitrator found that practice was not enough to satisfy the Fair Labor Standards Act. EEOC employees work a variety of flexible schedules that contributed to the arbitrator’s factual finding. Going forward, the agency will examine its overtime practices and make any necessary changes.”