While most eyes were turned to the election results last Tuesday night, a former Los Angeles policeman was enjoying a $4 million dollar verdict in his favor, after a jury agreed that he had been fired because of his testimony in a federal wage and hour lawsuit brought against the city by another officer.
Richard Romney had testified that he had followed the “unwritten policy” of denying officer’s pay for less than a full hour of overtime. After his testimony, an investigation was initiated and he was ultimately discharged for violating the city’s written rules on overtime. L.A. County jury awards $4 million to former LAPD officer.
Although all jury verdicts have a long way to go before they become collectable judgments, this one has an additional and somewhat unusual hurdle. It could be severely influenced by the Supreme Court’s decision in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, which was argued on October 13th. The transcript of the argument is here.[pdf]
Part of the issue is that the FLSA was really the first statute to provide employee rights and a prohibition against retaliation outside the union context, and Congress had not yet had the ability to focus on all the aspects of what protected activity really needed to be covered. Whether the statute is applied as it was written or as Congress would no doubt write it now, may make all the difference.
And in this case, that’s a big difference.