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Reich v. New York City Transit Auth.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

October 26, 1994, Argued ; January 17, 1995, Decided

Docket No. 94-6104

Opinion

 [*647]  LEVAL, Circuit Judge:

This is an appeal from a judgment of the United States District Court for [**2]  the Eastern District of New York, Arthur D. Spatt, Judge, in favor of the plaintiff, the United States Department of Labor ("DOL"), holding that the New York City Transit Authority (the "TA") is required to compensate each of its Police Department's canine handlers, under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et. seq. (the "FLSA"), as amended by the Portal-to-Portal Act, 29 U.S.C. § 251, et. seq., for the entire time spent commuting to and from work accompanied by the dog entrusted to him. The TA contends that such commuting time is not compensable under the FLSA.

For the reasons stated below, we reverse.

Factual Background

Police officers in the TA Police Department's canine unit ("handlers") patrol the subways accompanied by male german shepherd dogs. Each handler is responsible for feeding, grooming, training, and caring for his dog, and is required to take the dog home with him at the end of the working day. For reasons relating to the training of the dogs, the handlers are not permitted to use public transportation in taking their dogs to and from work. Upon accepting assignment [**3]  to the canine unit (which is voluntary), each handler was informed that he would not be compensated for home care or commuting time. The applicable collective bargaining agreement made no provision for such compensation.

In December of 1989, the DOL commenced this action against the TA under Section 17 of the FLSA, 29 U.S.C. § 217, seeking an injunction requiring the TA to pay the handlers overtime compensation both for time spent caring for the dogs at home and for commuting to and from work. The TA and DOL settled certain claims. In accordance with this settlement, the TA amended its collective bargaining agreement with the handlers' union, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, to include a provision entitling the handlers to compensation for limited time devoted to "dog care work" at home. 1 Accordingly, the issue that remained to be resolved in litigation was whether, and to what  [*648]  extent, the handlers should be paid for commuting time.

 [**4] The Proceedings Below

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45 F.3d 646 *; 1995 U.S. App. LEXIS 832 **; 129 Lab. Cas. (CCH) P33,194; 2 Wage & Hour Cas. 2d (BNA) 833

ROBERT B. REICH, Secretary of Labor, United States Department of Labor, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. NEW YORK CITY TRANSIT AUTHORITY, A Corporation, Defendant-Appellant.

Prior History:  [**1]  Appeal from a judgment entered in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Arthur D. Spatt, Judge, holding that the New York City Transit Authority was required under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. § 201, et. seq., as amended by the Portal-to-Portal Act, 29 U.S.C. § 251, et. seq., to compensate its police canine handlers for time spent commuting to and from work with their dogs.

Disposition: Reversed and remanded with instructions to enter judgment in favor of the Transit Authority.

CORE TERMS

commute, dogs, principal activity, exemption, time spent, walking, compensated, employees, contends, de minimis, postliminary, training, workday, travel, indispensable, feeding, recording, caring, cleanup, transportation, discipline, driving, minutes, patrol

Business & Corporate Compliance, Wage & Hour Laws, Scope & Definitions, Overtime & Work Periods, Labor & Employment Law, General Overview, Statutory Application, Portal-to-Portal Act