Time Spent Caring For Dogs Is Compensable Work

By Richard Thal
WPPA General Counsel

It is now well known that law enforcement dog handlers must be paid for all hours worked, and that Ahours worked@ includes time spent caring for canines outside scheduled working hours. But despite this knowledge, many dog handlers are not being fully compensated for time spent feeding, exercising, training, grooming and performing other dog-handling tasks.

Although municipalities cannot reasonably deny that under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) canine care time is compensable, they can question the amount of time that dog handlers say is required to complete their canine-related tasks. For example, in a recent court case, the City of Milwaukee argues that it properly paid dog handlers thirty … Continue reading

Moonlighting: Know The Risks – Know Your Rights

By Mark Hollinger, WPPA Staff Attorney

Before you consider taking any second job there are several factors you should first consider. Unless your second job is also a job where Employe Trust Funds treats you as a “protective occupation participant” eligible for duty disability benefits, as provided for under section 40.65, Stats., an injury or disease sustained while performing this second job that renders you incapable of performing your primary job as a law enforcement officer may create a tremendous hardship for you and your family.

There are several eligibility requirements for statutory duty disability benefits, but one criterion is that you must be injured while performing your duty or contract a disease due to your protective occupation. As … Continue reading

Probationary Periods for Newly-Promoted Police Officers: Antisdel v. City of Oak Creek Police and Fire Commission et al.

By Mark Hollinger

In an opinion written by Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson, the Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals in the above-referenced case on May 2, 2000. The only issue in this case was whether the Oak Creek Police and Fire Commission erred when it denied Antisdel a just cause hearing under Wis. Stat. §62.13 (5) (em). The Supreme Court held that Antisdel was entitled to a “just cause procedure” pursuant to Wis. Stat. §62.13 (5) (em) to contest his reduction in rank from sergeant to police officer.

James Antisdel joined the Oak Creek Police Department in 1985 and was promoted to sergeant on March 1, 1996. After promotion Antisdel began the … Continue reading

Contract Interpretation: How do you know what your contract means when the language is ambiguous?

By Richard Thal, WPPA General Counsel

In order to enforce your contract, you must know what provisions it contains. Once you know what is in your contract, you will know when to file a grievance over employer violations of clear contractual language. Amending or eliminating contractual provisions that are clear and unambiguous can only be done in bargaining. Clear language cannot be changed through your grievance procedure because even if an arbitrator believes that application of clear language is unfair, the arbitrator cannot amend the contract.

But often contractual provisions are not clear. When language is ambiguous, it is not obvious whether the employer has violated a provision.

When a union needs an interpretation of ambiguous language, negotiations with … Continue reading