Guam High Court Says Law Enforcement Officers Entitled to Overtime After 40 Hours, Not 43

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Guam –  Guam’s Supreme Court today [Wednesday] issued a decision affirming that that law enforcement officers are due overtime pay at the rate of time and a half after 40 hours of work, not 43.

Attorney Daniel Sommerfleck argued the case on behalf of  15 Guam Customs Officers who sued to receive the full amount of compensation and overtime pay to which they are entitled under the Minimum Wage and Hour Act of Guam.

Somerfleck told PNC News that the Supreme Court agreed that law enforcement officers, like the customs officers, are entitled to overtime pursuant to Guam law after 40 hours of work. 

The officers alleged that their statutory rights were violated when Guam Customs and Quarantine implemented a compensation plan paying overtime to law enforcement personnel only upon completion of 43 hours in a work week,

Read the Guam Supreme Court Decision

They asked the court to order Customs and Quarantine to compensate them for every hour worked in excess of forty hours per week since 1998 and to pay overtime in excess of 40 hours a week in the future.

On the other hand, GovGuam argued that Customs Officers are law enforcement officers subject to a federal exemption from the forty-hour workweek set forth by section 207(k) of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and implemented in Guam by Executive Order (“E.O.”) 96-08.

The Superior Court held that Guam law was not violated  by Management’s failure to pay the overtime rate or provide compensatory time off for work beyond forty hours in a workweek. The Superior Court denied declaratory and injunctive relief.

But in a decision authored by Justice Katherine A. Maraman and concurred by Chief Justice Robert J. Torres and Justice F. Philip Carbullido, the Supreme Court overturned the Superior Court Decision. The opinion also found that the Superior Court abused its discretion when it denied the Officers’ request for injunctive and declaratory relief  based on an erroneous interpretation of the Guam Minimum Wage and Hour Act.

The decision changes a long standing policy within the GovGuam not pay overtime to law enforcement officers until after 43 of work in a week.

And it could affect all law enforcement officers on Guam.

September 8, 2010 – The Supreme Court of Guam today issued
an opinion in the case of Derrick M. Guerrero, et al. v. Dennis J. Santo Tomas, in his official
capacity as Director of Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency, 2010 Guam 11. Fifteen Guam
Customs and Quarantine Officers brought suit to receive the full amount of compensation and
overtime pay to which they are entitled under the Minimum Wage and Hour Act of Guam. The
officers alleged that when the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency implemented a
compensation plan paying overtime to law enforcement personnel only upon completion of 43
hours in a work week, it deprived them of their statutory right to compensation at the overtime
rate of pay for every hour worked in excess of forty hours. They sought preliminary injunctive
relief and permanent injunctive relief, ordering Management to compensate them for every hour
worked in excess of forty hours per week since 1998 and directing Management to pay the
overtime rate in the future, as well as awarding attorney’s fees. Management contended that the
Customs Officers are law enforcement officers subject to a federal exemption from the forty-
hour workweek set forth by section 207(k) of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and
implemented in Guam by Executive Order (“E.O.”) 96-08. The Superior Court held that Guam
law was not violated by Management’s failure to pay the overtime rate or provide compensatory
time off for work beyond forty hours in a workweek. The Superior Court denied declaratory and
injunctive relief.
In an opinion authored by Justice Katherine A. Maraman and concurred by Chief Justice Robert
J. Torres and Justice F. Philip Carbullido, the Court determined that 22 GCA § 3101 et seq.

applied to the Customs Officers’ claims and that E.O. 96-08 did not implement the FLSA section
207(k) exemption for law enforcement personnel. The court held that the Guam Customs and
Quarantine Agency violated the Guam Minimum Wage and Hour Act when it stopped paying
Customs Officers compensation at the overtime rate of pay for every hour worked above forty
hours in a workweek. The court further held that the Superior Court abused its discretion when it
denied the Officers’ request for injunctive and declaratory relief based on an erroneous
interpretation of the Guam Minimum Wage and Hour Act, the FLSA, and E.O. 96-08.
Accordingly, the order denying the Officers’ request for injunctive and declaratory relief was
reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

For more information, contact Maria Cenzon at 475-3278