FBI Case Certified as Class Action
On August 2, 2007, a group of more than 100 police officers for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) filed a class action complaint in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims alleging that the FBI has not complied with a 2002 statute that would have given them the same pay and benefits as members of the Uniformed Division of the United States Secret Service. If successful in their suit, the officers will receive back and future pay and benefits.
On November 2, 2002, the President signed into effect 28 U.S.C.A. §540C, the FBI Reform Act of 2002 (“Reform Act”). In passing the Reform Act, Congress recognized that the FBI police force had been unable to retain skilled personnel at a rate commensurate with the threat and the need for experienced leadership. The Reform Act provided that the FBI police would receive the increased pay and benefits with respect to pay periods beginning after January 1, 2003. Despite this mandate by Congress and the President, the FBI has failed to implement the pay and benefits portions of the Reform Act, refusing to pay its police force in accordance with this law.
In October 2007, the FBI filed a motion to dismiss the officers’ suit. The motion, which threatened to bring the officers’ fight for fair pay to a halt even before they had the chance to make their case, claimed that the Court of Federal Claims did not have jurisdiction over the case and could not rule on the issues it presented. Attorneys at the D.C. labor and employment law firm Gilbert Employment Law, P.C., who represent the officers, filed an opposition to the FBI’s motion to dismiss, rebutting the FBI’s arguments and reaffirming that the court did indeed have the authority to hear the officers’ case. The court reviewed the competing arguments and, on May 15, 2008, issued a decision in the officers’ favor, rejecting the FBI’s motion to dismiss. The Court found that nothing prevents it from hearing the issues presented or from asserting jurisdiction in the case.
On September 26, 2008, the officers overcame another major hurdle in their battle for fair pay. The court granted class certification to the group of over 150 FBI police officers taking part in the suit. In order to grant class certification, the court found that the group of potential class plaintiffs satisfies certain criteria. Most notably, the court found that the number of class plaintiffs was more than adequate to justify a class action certification and that Sandra Mazliah, as lead attorney on the case, and the other attorneys and staff at Gilbert Employment Law, P.C., with their extensive resources and experience representing federal employees, are able to give effective representation to the class. The next step in the litigation will be notifying the potential class members of the certification, and giving them the opportunity to join the suit.