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Perez v. City of New York

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

November 30, 2015, Argued; January 22, 2016, Final Submission; August 2, 2016, Decided

Docket No. 15-315


 [*121]  SACK, Circuit Judge:

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq., regulates the manner in which many New York City employees must be paid. The statute defines certain employment-related activities as compensable and sets parameters  [*122]  for both regular 1 and overtime wages. In this case, several active and former Assistant Urban Park Rangers ("AUPRs") employed by the City's Department of Parks & Recreation ("Parks Department") allege that they, and others similarly situated, were not paid in accordance with the FLSA's requirements.


AUPRs are employed to perform a range of public services in the City's parks. For the purposes of this appeal, the defendants accept the plaintiffs' assertion that those services include: "providing directions and other information to persons seeking to use parks or pools; providing assistance to those persons involved in accidents or those who may be victims of unlawful activity and investigating [**3]  such accidents or activity; implementing crowd control procedures at special events; providing safety and educational information to the public; and issuing summonses to or making arrests of persons suspected of unlawful conduct" under "laws, including New York City rules and regulations, governing use of the parks and pools." Appellants' Br. at 10; see Appellee's Br. at 10-11.

During a shift, AUPRs are required to wear uniforms comprising both professional clothing and equipment. The professional clothing includes "olive drab" pants and jacket, "'1 Smokey the Bear' style hats," and various Parks Department insignias, while the equipment includes a bulletproof vest and a utility belt holding handcuffs, gloves, a radio, a flashlight, a baton, a can of mace, a summons book, and a tape recorder. App'x 213-14 (official Parks Department uniform policy). The plaintiffs' estimates of the time needed to don and doff those uniforms each day (that is, to put them on before a shift and take them off afterward) range from approximately five to thirty minutes.

The plaintiffs claim that the defendants — the Parks Department and its Commissioner, along with the City and its mayor — provided inadequate [**4]  compensation for their work as AUPRs in four respects: (1) by failing to pay wages for compensable activities that the plaintiffs performed immediately before and after their regularly scheduled shifts, including donning and doffing their uniforms; (2) by failing to pay wages for compensable activities that the plaintiffs performed during lunch breaks; (3) by providing one hour, rather than one hour and a half, of compensatory leave for each hour of overtime that the plaintiffs worked; and (4) by providing compensatory leave, rather than monetary payment, for overtime that the plaintiffs worked after individually accruing 480 hours of compensatory leave. The defendants counter that, to the extent the FLSA 1 applied to the plaintiffs and their employment, their compensation complied with the statute.

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832 F.3d 120 *; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 14104 **; 166 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P36,463; 26 Wage & Hour Cas. 2d (BNA) 1726

Henry Perez, Baselice Ralph, Juan Bayron, Jerry Cordero, Ronald Eason, Donald Koonce, Joseph Oro, Ruben Rios, Jr., Pedro Rosado, and Derek G. Walther, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. The City of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, and Mitchell J. Silver, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Department of Parks & Recreation, Defendants-Appellees.1

Subsequent History: On remand at, Partial summary judgment granted by, in part, Partial summary judgment denied by, in part Perez v. City of New York, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159473 (S.D.N.Y., Sept. 27, 2017)

Prior History:  [**1] Current and former Assistant Urban Park Rangers employed by New York City's Department of Parks & Recreation filed a collective action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, including the Department's refusal to compensate them for time spent putting on and taking off ("donning and doffing") required uniforms. The district court (Shira A. Scheindlin, Judge) granted partial summary judgment for the defendants 1 and, without further proceedings, closed the case. We conclude that the district court erred both in granting partial summary judgment and in closing the case while several claims remained unresolved. The judgment of the district court is therefore vacated and the cause remanded for further proceedings.

Perez v. City of New York, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13425 (S.D.N.Y., Jan. 15, 2015)

Disposition: VACATED and REMANDED.


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Business & Corporate Compliance, Wage & Hour Laws, Statutory Application, Portal-to-Portal Act, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Summary Judgment Review, Standards of Review