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Harris v. City of Edwardsville

MAY 21, 1973.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Madison County; the Hon. A.A. MATOESIAN, Judge, presiding.


Appeal from a judgment of the Circuit Court of Madison County in favor of the defendant, City of Edwardsville, Illinois. The plaintiff, Rosetta Harris, brought this action to recover the one-half time of the allegedly time and a half due to her for work performed in excess of the 40-hour week.

Hereinafter, the plaintiff-appellant, Rosetta Harris, shall be called the plaintiff and the defendant-appellee, City of Edwardsville, shall be called the City.

This action was filed by the plaintiff seeking the overtime wage in a two count complaint. The first count of the complaint was based on allegation that the plaintiff was entitled to recover because the employment agreement "must be construed to include the customary additional rate of pay for overtime work paid to all other employees of the City of Edwardsville, Illinois, during the period * * *". The second count was based upon denial of the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution because she was not paid on the basis as others in the same very general capacity. The City answered by way of a general denial.

Trial was held to the court and at the conclusion, the court, after taking the matter under advisement for a period of almost five months, entered judgment against the plaintiff and in favor of the City.

The facts are not basically in dispute. It is agreed that the plaintiff worked for the City in the police department as a clerk-dispatcher. She started work on the 4:00 P.M. to 12:00 A.M. shift in June, 1965, and in May, 1966, she not only worked the 4 to 12 shift, but also worked the 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. shift. Thus she performed the 16 hour, five day a week double shift until August 1968. She received pay for the double shift at the regular rate, but did not receive time and a half for the second shift.

The plaintiff did not make demand or expect "overtime" pay until July 31, 1968, when she apparently discovered that others employed by the City in clerical positions were receiving time and a half for "overtime".

The parties have agreed that the number of hours worked by the plaintiffs is at least the number of hours stated in the plaintiff's complaint, i.e., 2480 hours. The City stipulated the number of hours to be 2600 at a rate of pay of $1.59 per hour.

There is a dispute as to whether the plaintiff was requested to work the extra shift. The record is clear that she was willing to and desirous of working the second shift. The record is also quite clear that during the period of the plaintiff's employment she was considered a valuable employee and her supervisors said that she was happy with her job.

The record further clearly indicates that the plaintiff did not expect to receive time and a half until she discovered others in the City Clerk's office were so paid. Further, it is clear from the record that in the City, employees covered by union contract received time and a half for overtime, as did those working in the City Clerk's office. However, the record is also clear that no employee of the City's police department received overtime pay.

The plaintiff contends that she was not paid overtime because the City's former Mayor was prejudiced against Mrs. Harris' race. Mrs. Harris bases this contention on an occurrence which took place prior to her having been employed by the City. The plaintiff alleged that the Mayor, then an official with the Boy Scouts, refused to get one of the plaintiff's children into scouting because of his race. The child was able to become a scout due to the efforts of another individual. Other than this single allegation, the record is without any evidence of discrimination against the plaintiff. Quite to the contrary, the plaintiff received such written accolades as "is very conscientious in her duty and has earned the respect of all officers of this department". This having been written by the Police Chief to the Alderman who was Chairman of the Police & Health Committee when it was first requested that the plaintiff be allowed to work the double shift.

Therefore, other than for minor differences, the facts are not in dispute.

The plaintiff brings this appeal asserting that the court below erred in two particulars. First, that the case should have been decided in favor of the plaintiff based on the facts presented; and second, that the fourteenth amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits State officials from using race as a criteria for taking, or in this case, not taking action.

• 1 Plaintiff's counsel has prepared an excellent brief and we have been greatly aided by the brief in our consideration of the issues herein presented. The City has not filed a brief and thus we have considered reversing the court below because of the failure of the City to file a brief. However, after due deliberation, the ends of justice would in this case not have been served by our so doing. Metcoff v. ...

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