Judge rules Billings does not owe police officers $2.7M in overtime pay dispute

Posted at 4:04 PM, Dec 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-20 19:00:43-05

BILLINGS – The city of Billings does not have to pay more than $2.73 million to police officers for overtime they say they’re owed dating back nearly a decade, a state judge ruled Wednesday.

District Judge Olivia Rieger of Dawson County issued an order reversing the original order from another judge in the suit filed in 2009.

Rieger wrote that the city had properly calculated the officers’ pay consistent with their union’s collective bargaining agreement, Billings City Administrator Chris Kukulski said in a Wednesday news release.

The ruling is the latest in a long legal battle between the Montana Public Employees Association and the city. In 2009, 28 police officers filed suit, alleging the city had underpaid them for years by miscalculating longevity pay.

The case was called Watters et al vs. the City of Billings.

In the original trial, District Judge Brenda Gilbert of Livingston ordered the city to pay just under $2 million in back pay and penalties to 142 active-duty police officers.

The city appealed, and the case moved all the way to the Montana Supreme Court.

In August 2017, the high court ruled 5-2 to send the case back to district court, ruling that additional contract language was not considered in the original decision.

Union attorneys have not said if they plan to appeal.