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Pay & Leave Claim Decisions

Washington, DC

U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Fair Labor Standards Act Decision
Under section 204(f) of title 29, United States Code

Glenn A. Moody
Maintenance Worker
WG-4749-7
Tyler Bend Maintenance Center
Division of Facility Management
Midwest Region
Buffalo National River
National Park Service
Department of the Interior
Tyler Bend, Arkansas
FLSA overtime pay and mileage reimbursement for travel to temporary duty stations outside the limits of the official duty station
Denied
F-4749-07-01

Robert D. Hendler
Classification and Pay Claims
Program Manager
Agency Compliance and Evaluation
Merit System Accountability and Compliance

01/28/2014


Date

As provided in section 551.708 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), this decision is binding on all administrative, certifying, payroll, disbursing, and accounting officials of agencies for which the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) administers the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The agency should identify all similarly situated current and, to the extent possible, former employees, ensure that they are treated in a manner consistent with this decision, and inform them in writing of their right to file an FLSA claim with the agency or OPM.  There is no further right of administrative appeal.  This decision is subject to discretionary review only under conditions and time limits specified in 5 CFR 551.708 (address provided in section 551.710).  The claimant has the right to bring action in the appropriate Federal court if dissatisfied with this decision.

Introduction

The claimant asserts he worked overtime hours when travelling to temporary work sites outside his official duty station for which he should have been paid under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) during the period from November 15, 2009 to January 14, 2011.  He also requests reimbursement for mileage driven in his personally owned vehicle (POV) when travelling to the temporary work sites, and that his agency develop a written policy regarding employees driving POVs to alternate/temporary work locations.  During the claim period (and currently), the claimant was employed as a Maintenance Worker, WG-4749-7, at the Tyler Bend Maintenance Center, Division of Facility Management, Midwest Region, Buffalo National River, National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) in Tyler Bend, Arkansas.  We have accepted and decided this claim under section 4(f) of the FLSA, as amended, codified at section 204(f) of title 29, United States Code (U.S.C.).    

We received this claim on April 3, 2012, and the agency’s administrative report on May 22, 2012.  In reaching our decision, we have carefully reviewed all information provided by the claimant and his agency.  We also conducted a telephonic interview with the claimant and obtained clarifying information via email from his servicing human resources office. 

Nature of Claim

The claimant’s agency determined his position is nonexempt, thus covered by the overtime pay provisions of the FLSA.  He believes he is entitled to overtime pay for a total of 14 hours and 6 minutes for travel hours to temporary work sites which he believes are outside his official duty station from November 15, 2009 to January 14, 2011, and the other remedies discussed previously.

OPM does not have authority to consider the claimant’s mileage reimbursement request or assert jurisdiction over any claim against the Department of Interior regarding mileage.  The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), not OPM, is responsible for issuing regulations on travel, transportation, and subsistence expenses and allowances for Federal civilian employees as authorized in chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.).  GSA’s Civilian Board of Contract Appeals is responsible for settling travel, transportation and subsistence claims (http://www.cbca.gsa.gov/).  Therefore, this portion of the claim is denied for lack of jurisdiction. 

In addition, OPM’s claims adjudication authority under 29 U.S.C. § 204(f) is narrow and limited to determining if monies are due the claimant for the asserted claim.  It does not extend to directing an agency to develop a specific written policy.     

Claim Period

Section 551.702 of title 5, CFR, provides that all FLSA claims filed after June 30, 1994, are subject to a two-year statute of limitations (three years for willful violations).  A claimant must submit a written claim to ether the employing agency or to OPM in order to preserve the claim period.  The date the agency or OPM receives the claim is the date which determines the period of possible back pay entitlement.  Since the claimant originally filed an FLSA claim with NPS in the form of a written grievance received by the agency on August 16, 2011, the claim period is preserved as of that date and the claim period of this claim commences on August 16, 2009.

Although not germane to this claim, the next issue normally examined in establishing the claim period is if it should be extended to three years based on whether the agency’s actions met willful violation criteria.  “Willful violation” is defined as follows:

Willful violation means a violation in circumstances where the agency knew that its conduct was prohibited by the Act or showed reckless disregard of the requirements of the Act.  All of the facts and circumstances surrounding the violation are taken into account in determining whether a violation was willful. 

5 CFR 551.104 (2007) 

To prove willful violation, there must be evidence that NPS showed reckless disregard of the Act’s requirements.  However, the claimant does not allege his agency willfully violated the Act.  In addition, the claim period designated by the claimant does not fall beyond the two-year period of the claim established above. Further, since we deny the claim as discussed later in this decision, willful violation cannot attach and we will not address this issue further.

Evaluation

Travel outside Official Duty Station

The FLSA regulation governing time spent traveling from home to a temporary duty location outside the limits of his or her official duty station is found in section 551.422(b) of 5 CFR.   As stated in that section:  

An employee who travels from home before the regular workday begins and returns home at the end of the workday is engaged in normal “home to work” travel; such travel is not hours of work.  When an employee travels directly from home to a temporary duty location outside the limits of his or her official duty station, the time the employee would have spent in normal home to work travel shall be deducted from hours of work as specified in paragraphs (a)(2) and (a) (3) of this section. 

Section 551.422(d) of 5 CFR indicates:

Except as provided in paragraphs (b) of this section an agency may prescribe a mileage radius  of not greater than 50 miles to determine whether the employee’s travel is within or outside the limits of the employee’s official duty station for determining entitlement to overtime pay for travel under this part.  However, an agency’s definition of an employee’s official duty station may not be smaller than the definition of “official station and post of duty” under the Federal Travel Regulation issued by the General Services Administration (41 CFR 300-3.1). 

The agency indicates that DOI has not prescribed a mileage radius of not greater than 50 miles to determine whether an employee’s travel is within or outside the limits of the employee’s official duty station.  However, NPS notes that while DOI has not specifically prescribed a mileage radius, NPS accepts the definition of “official station” and the 50-mile radius addressed in the Federal Travel Regulations issued by the General Services Administration (41 CFR 300-3.1) as follows:  “An area defined by the agency that includes the location where the employee regularly performs his or her duties or an invitational traveler’s home or regular place of business (See section 301-1.2).  The area may be a mileage radius around a particular point, a geographic boundary, or any other definite domain, provided no part of the area is more than 50 miles from where the employee regularly performs his or her duties or from an invitational traveler’s home or regular place of business.  If the employee’s work requires recurring travel or varies on a recurring basis, the location where the work activities of the employee’s position are based is considered the regular place of work.” 

OPM’s definition of duty station is the city/town, county and State in which the employee works.  For most employees, this is the location of the employee’s work site.  Work site of the employee is the place where he or she works, or at which the employee’s activities are based, as determined by the employing agency (The Guide to Processing Personnel Actions, Chapter 23).  

The claimant states that based on his Notification of Personnel Action (Standard Form 50), his agency designated St. Joe, Arkansas, as his duty station.  However, information provided by the agency shows that his actual place of work is the maintenance center at Tyler Bend, Arkansas, which is within the Middle Buffalo District.  St. Joe is the location of the Middle Buffalo District office and the mailing address for the maintenance center and staff working at Tyler Bend.  The claimant confirms he regularly reports for work to the maintenance center at Tyler Bend but believes based on the above personnel action, his extra time spent commuting should be computed from St. Joe.  However, based on the agency’s information and application of the Federal Travel Regulations cited above, we determine the claimant’s duty station is the location of his work site at the maintenance center at Tyler Bend and the 50-mile radius is computed from that location, not from the claimant's home.  Even if his travel was computed from St. Joe to the temporary duty stations discussed below it would still fall within a 50 mile radius. 

The claimant’s regular working hours during the claim period were from 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. or from 6:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (May-December).  The claimant believes he is entitled to a total of 14 hours and 6 minutes overtime pay for time spent traveling to a temporary duty station outside the limits of his official duty station (which he states is St. Joe, Arkansas) from November 15, 2009, through January 14, 2011.  He notes that DOI has not prescribed a mileage radius of not greater than 50 miles to determine whether an employee’s travel is within or outside the limits of the employee’s official duty station.  As listed below, the claimant was only able to provide the pay periods and number of days in which he reported to temporary duty locations during each specified period.  He was not able to provide the exact dates of the occurrences. 

On one day during PP24 (11/15/2009-11/28/2009); three days during PP06 (02/28/2010-03/13/2010); five days during PP01 12/19/2010-01/01/2011; and seven days during PP02 (01/02/2011- 01/14/2011)

Per instructions from his supervisor, as specified during the above pay periods, the claimant reported directly from his home in Harrison, Arkansas, to the Buffalo Point Campground.  At the end of his regularly scheduled work day he left the Buffalo Point Campground and went directly home.  The distance from his official duty station at the maintenance center at Tyler Bend to the Buffalo Point Campground is 35 miles.  Therefore, his travel to the Buffalo Point Campground was not outside the limits of the 50 miles radius of his assigned duty station and the additional time spent commuting is not compensable.  Additional commuting time is only considered when the employee travels outside the limits the official duty station.  Thus the commuting instances noted above are considered normal “home to work” travel and are not hours of work.  (5 CFR 551.422(b))

On one day during PP02 (01/03/2010-01/16/2010)

The claimant reported from his home in Harrison, Arkansas, to his official duty station at the maintenance center at Tyler Bend.  After working for one hour, his supervisor instructed him to go to the Pruitt Maintenance Center which is 44 miles from the maintenance center at Tyler Bend.  This trip was made during regular working hours.  At the end of his work day he drove directly home from the Pruitt Maintenance Center.  Because the Pruitt Maintenance Center falls within the 50 mile radius of his official duty station at Tyler Bend, his commute home is normal “home to work” travel and not compensable as hours of work. 

On one day during PP08 3/28/2010-4/10/2010 

The claimant reported from his home in Harrison, Arkansas, to his official duty station at the maintenance center at Tyler Bend.  During the work day his supervisor instructed him to report to the Buffalo Point Campground to remove hazardous trees.  The distance from Tyler Bend to the Buffalo Point Campground is 35 miles.  At the end of his regularly scheduled work day he left the Buffalo Point Campground and went directly home.  Because the Buffalo Point Campground falls within the 50 miles radius of his official duty station at Tyler Bend, his commute home is normal “home to work” travel and not compensable as hours of work. 

On one day during PP19 8/29/2010-09/11/2010

The claimant reported from his home in Harrison, Arkansas, to his official duty station at the maintenance center at Tyler Bend.  During the work day his supervisor instructed him to go to the Pruitt Maintenance Center located in the Upper Buffalo District to remove tress.  He drove to the Pruitt Maintenance Center in a government vehicle.  Once at the Pruitt Maintenance Center, another employee drove him back to the maintenance center at Tyler Bend during the work day so he could get his personally owned vehicle (POV).  This was done so he would have it at the end of the day to return home.  Upon arrival at Tyler Bend, he drove his POV back to the Pruitt Maintenance Center and worked the rest of the day at that location.  It took him 44 miles to drive his POV from the maintenance center at Tyler Bend to Pruitt Maintenance Center.  At the end of his work day at Pruitt Maintenance Center, he drove directly home.  Because the distance from the maintenance center at Tyler Bend to the Pruitt Maintenance Center was 44 miles, it is not outside the limits of the 50 miles radius of his official duty station at the Tyler Bend.  Thus his time spent commuting home from Pruitt Maintenance Center is normal “home to work” travel and not compensable as hours of work.  Commuting times are only considered when the employee travels outside the limits of the official duty station and therefore do not apply to this situation. 

Decision

All time the claimant spent traveling to temporary duty stations and returning home at the end of his work day was within the limits of his official duty station and is thus considered normal “home to work” travel.  Therefore, it is not hours of work and not compensable (5 CFR 551.422(b)) and the claim is accordingly denied. 

 

 

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