HCDO FOP 39 Legal Advocacy
The Harris County Deputies’ Organization FOP 39 legal fights daily for its members and for the betterment of the law enforcement community. HCDO FOP represents Harris County area law enforcement vigorously and always works to gain the best outcome for its membership. Due to privacy concerns, not every legal case can be discussed. This section is to highlight some ongoing legal work. If you have any questions or concerns, please click here.
HCDO FOP sues Harris County in Federal Court under the Fair Labor Standards Act
Harris County Deputies’ Organization FOP 39, in a joint venture with the law firm of Moore and Associates, has filed a Federal Lawsuit against Harris County for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This case is entirely about the County not wanting to pay certain supervisors overtime but still wanting to treat them as hourly employees. The lawsuit alleges that Harris County has improperly classified Lieutenants and Captains as exempt employees and has refused to pay all Lieutenants and Captains in the Sheriff's Office overtime at the time and one-half rate of pay. It is titled Moreau v. Harris County.
We asserted that Lieutenants and Captains are not exempt employees based on their job description and responsibilities under the law. HCSO has treated these supervisors as hourly employees while treating them as exempt employees in their budget books.
In addition to seeking a judicial ruling that these supervisors are not exempt employees, a claim for back damages going back two years has been filed for the employees who have agreed to be named in the lawsuit as well as a claim for liquidated damages and attorneys fees.
With this lawsuit, HCDO FOP is continuing to fight for the equity of all Harris County law enforcement employees. This lawsuit is important because Harris County cannot be allowed to skirt established legal norms and one of HCDO FOP's main purposes is to fight the inequities between the employees and the County. We are sending a message to the County that they cannot have it both ways. The full text of the original pleadings in this lawsuit can be found HERE.
The Fifth Circuit recently upheld the jury verdict in Miller v. Travis County where Travis County Sheriff Lieutenants sued stating it was illegal under the FLSA to hold them as exempt employees based on their job duties. The Travis County Lieutenants fought for their rights to be non-exempt so that they would be entitled to overtime along with other federal labor protections.
HCDO FOP federal lawsuit, Moreau v. Harris County, is ongoing and similar in a lot of ways to the Travis County case. While the Fifth Circuit opinion only applies to Travis County Employees, it shows the justice system's willingness to ensure that all employees are treated fairly and will be a great precedent in our own suit as we continue to fight for our membership and employees. The full opinion issued in Miller v. Travis County can be found HERE.
HCSO Lieutenants work hard for Harris County and work many long hours including being hands on in all departments like doing rounds and taking calls. These Lieutenants, along with all HCDO FOP members, deserve all the rights they are entitled to. HCDO FOP will continue to take charge and make sure all its members are protected, just like it is doing with the Lieutenants now.
HCDO FOP files federal Amicus Brief against
Harris County Bail Reform
HCDO FOP 39 filed a 40 page Amicus Brief in Federal Court on August 20, 2019 objecting to the bail reform settlement agreement filed by Harris County and the Plaintiffs in the long running federal bail reform lawsuit known as Odonnell v. Harris County. We are adamant that the agreement itself violates State Law and creates many programs and obligations that are beyond the scope of the original lawsuit. The settlement runs contrary to public safety and we strongly believe it is dangerous to the victims of crimes as well as the community. The following Thursday, Amicus Briefs objecting to the agreement were filed by Commissioner Jack Cagle, Commissioner Steve Raddick, Crime Stoppers of Greater Houston, Equal Justice Now, Pasadena Police Chief Josh Bruegger, District Attorney Kim Ogg, the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, and the Professional Bondsmen of Harris County. Our Brief was written by HCDO FOP Attorney Robin McIlhenny with HCDO FOP of Counsel Marc Hill consulting on the brief and he will argue our position to the Court. Though a settlement in this case did occur, HCDO FOP is adamant that the terms only serve to harm the community. The issue remains ongoing as the federal courts consider similar bail reform measures for felony crimes. The full HCDO FOP 39 filed brief can be found HERE.
Ongoing Legislative Advocacy by HCDO FOP
The Board of the Harris County Deputies' Organization FOP 39 has worked tirelessly to promote legislation in Austin. The Bills the Union has been working on and trying to promote will help all Members.
HB 3610 was written and presented to the Legislature by HCDO FOP 39 in the 2018 session. This Bill would give Harris County and HCDO FOP the ability to bargain pay, benefits, working conditions, and other employee issues directly with County Officials. In the 2018 session, HCDO FOP Board Members have not only been lobbying in the Legislature and in Harris County for the passage of this Bill, but Vice President Eric Batton and Board First Chair Paul Bruce, along with HCDO FOP of counsel lawyer Mark Hill, testified to the Committee in charge of the Bill. This issue is one HCDO FOP 39 plans on bringing to the next legislative session and prioritize its passage. Full text of the 2018 version of the proposed Bill can be found here.
HB 3894 was introduced to the Legislature by HCDO FOP 39 in the 2018 session. It would strengthen the current Civil Service system, mandate back pay awards when disciplinary decisions are reversed, and allow for independent arbitration on terminations and certain suspensions, giving employees more robust due process. Members of the HCDO FOP Board testified in support of this Bill in the 2018 Legislative. This Bill was produced by TMPA as part of The Texas Law Enforcement Counsel (TLEC). TLEC is an alliance of labor organizations throughout Texas including HCDO, HPOU, the Dallas Police Association, DPSOA, FOP, and TMPA. HCDO has been associated with TLEC since 2014 and it has aided HCDO (and now HCDO FOP) in having statewide influence in order to improve Harris County. As part of TLEC, HCDO FOP teams up with other law enforcement labor unions on a legislative agenda. It is a great partnership to give local law enforcement a greater voice in Austin.
This Bill, HB 3610 revolutionizes disciplinary appeals and will be strongly advocated for in the next Legislative session. Full text of the 2018 version of the proposed Bill can be found here.