Bartlett v. City of Chicago, No. 19-3183 (7th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Current and former members of the Chicago Police Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit brought a purported class action, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. 216(b), the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, and the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act. They claim that when they take their SWAT equipment home to maintain a constant state of readiness, they must store some of that equipment inside their residences; it cannot be left in their vehicles. The department claimed that they have the option of leaving the equipment at headquarters, upon request. The operators sought compensation for the off-duty time required to transport, load, unload, and store their gear.
The Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment for Chicago. The activity of transporting, loading, and unloading equipment to and from residences, and securing equipment inside residences is not integral and indispensable to the operators’ principal activity. A “principal activity” commences an employee’s workday; once started, that “workday” continues until the conclusion of the employee’s final principal activity of the day. The Portal-to-Portal Act does not apply to a worker’s “preliminary activity” or “post-liminary activity.” The requirement that certain equipment not be left in the vehicle but stored in the residence is only a reasonable directive that officers take precautions necessary to ensure safety and is far removed from the operators’ principal activity of handling critical incidents.