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07/11/95 JAMES D. ATHANAS v. CITY LAKE FOREST AND

July 11, 1995

JAMES D. ATHANAS, DAVID S. BARBKNECHT, JAMES R. BENTZ, ROBERT J. COYLE, HENRY C. CURRIE, NIKOS B. ELIOPOULOUS, PATRICK E. GOSEWISCH, ROBERT A. HEELAN, RUDOLPH S. KOMIN, HENRY A. MAIER, LAURA L. SCARRY, AND EDMUND B. YEP, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS AND CROSS-APPELLEES,
v.
THE CITY OF LAKE FOREST AND LAKE FOREST POLICE DEPARTMENT, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES AND CROSS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 92-MR-331. Honorable Stephen E. Walter, Judge, Presiding.

Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied December 6, 1995.

The Honorable Justice Doyle delivered the opinion of the court: Geiger and Thomas, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Doyle

JUSTICE DOYLE delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiffs, 12 current and former police officers employed by the City of Lake Forest in the Lake Forest police department (Department) appeal from a judgment entered by the circuit court of Lake County which found that plaintiffs waived their rights to compensation for their attendance at unpaid roll calls. Defendant, the City of Lake Forest (City), cross-appeals from a circuit court finding that City officials did not have authority to enter into a contract term for unpaid police roll calls because such a contract term would conflict with the City's personnel policy on such matters.

Plaintiffs' complaint named both the City and the Department as defendants. The Department made a special appearance and argued that it was not a legal entity and could not be sued as a legal entity under the title Lake Forest police department. Subsequently the parties referred to a single defendant, the City. We will also refer to the City as the single defendant in this appeal.

The parties made comprehensive stipulations as to numerous facts and documents. The facts of this case are therefore largely undisputed.

Plaintiffs filed this action for declaratory judgment and accounting on July 23, 1992. Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment that they were entitled to compensation for the 15-minute daily roll call period they were required to attend but were not compensated for during the 10 years preceding their complaint. Plaintiffs also sought an accounting for the sums allegedly owed for these unpaid roll calls.

Since at least the early 1970s, the City has maintained personnel policies which the Lake Forest city council (City Council) formally adopted in a set of provisions called "Personnel Policies and Practices" (Personnel Policies). Section 3-1 of the Personnel Policies provides that the regularly established work week for City employees, including police officers, is 40 hours per week. Section 3.5 of the Personnel Policies, which has been in existence in substantially the same form since at least 1974, governs the payment of overtime pay to the City's employees, including its police officers. Section 3.5 provides, in relevant part:

"3.5 Compensation for Overtime Work.

Employees shall be compensated for overtime work at the following rates:

a. Police Department--Police personnel shall be compensated at 1 1/2 times their established hourly rate, computed on a per hour basis for all authorized police or fire work in excess of eight hours per work day and beyond the regularly established work week, and for all authorized police or fire work when called back after normal working hours on regularly scheduled days off, including holidays. Whenever a policeman is called back to work on a temporary basis, he shall receive a minimum of two hours overtime compensation (Amended 5/1/81)."

The working hours of the City's police are divided into three daily shifts of 8 hours and 15 minutes each. The first 15 minutes of each of these shifts overlaps with the last 15 minutes of the prior shift and consists of roll call. The purpose of roll call is to brief police officers as to occurrences during prior shifts and prepare them for their street assignments. Attendance at roll calls is mandatory and is considered "authorized police work" under section 3.5 of the Personnel Policies. The City does not compensate its police officers for their attendance at roll calls. The Department has used this roll call policy for at least 28 years.

Since 1975, the Department's training of each newly hired police officer has included a field training program. Among the topics covered in the field training program is the completion of a daily duty log. In the daily duty log, each officer chronologically lists the services he or she has been engaged in during his or her shift by the type of activity. The activity is signified by a numerical code. The code for unpaid time is "998."

In 1975, when the Department became computerized and the current daily duty log was adopted, the then chief of police initiated the practice of recording unpaid time as "998" on the duty log. During each officer's field training, field training officers orally instruct trainees to report the time spent at roll call in their daily duty logs as unpaid time by entering "998" on the log.

Each plaintiff, whether hired before or after 1975, acknowledged that he or she was made aware of the roll call policy at the inception of his or her employment as a police officer for the City. Each plaintiff knew that he or she was required to attend roll call as a condition of employment but would not be paid for attending roll call. Each plaintiff was aware of the provisions of section 3.5 of the Personnel Policies as to overtime. The plaintiffs understood that one of the purposes of recording roll call time as "998" on the daily logs was to provide information to the police chief which the chief could use in seeking higher wages for police officers.

After being informed of the roll call policy, each plaintiff continued to work for the City as a police officer. Throughout this employment, the City never paid any plaintiff for his roll call time. Prior to this action, no plaintiff ever formally complained of the roll call policy.

The roll call policy did not originate from and is not mandated by any enactment, resolution, policy, or ordinance of the City Council. The roll call policy was never reduced to writing. Since at least 1964, Lake Forest city managers orally approved of the roll call policy.

Plaintiffs filed a four-count complaint. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of defendant as to count II. Plaintiffs abandoned count III. Counts ...


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