MANUEL ALMANZA, AND OTHER SIMILARLY SITUATED PERSONS, Plaintiffs-Appellants
UNITED STATES, Defendant-Appellee
from the United States Court of Federal Claims in No.
1:13-cv-00130-EDK, Judge Elaine Kaplan.
M. Rosenthal, James & Hoffman, PC, Washington, DC, argued
represented by Ryan Edward Griffin, Alice Hwang; David L.
Kern, Kern Law Firm, El Paso, TX.
S. Iarossi, Commercial Litigation Branch, Civil Division,
United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC, argued
represented by Joseph H. Hunt, Steven John Gillingham, Robert
Edward Kirschman, Jr.
Newman, Clevenger, and Reyna, Circuit Judges.
Almanza represents a group of United States Border Patrol
Agents who seek compensation from the United States for
activities they claim were performed during "hours of
work" while attending a voluntary canine instructor
course. The United States Court of Federal Claims granted
summary judgment in favor of the government and denied
Almanza's claims. Because the court correctly determined
that Almanza is not entitled to compensation as a matter of
law, we affirm.
Border Patrol Agents, Canine Handlers, and Canine Instructors
Patrol Agents ("agents") of the United States
Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") are
responsible for patrolling the international borders of the
United States. In performing those responsibilities, some
agents choose to be paired with a trained detection canine.
Those agents are referred to as "canine handlers."
Trained canines assist the canine handlers in detecting
controlled substances and concealed individuals attempting to
enter the United States illegally. Agents who wish to work
with canines must attend a seven-week program of field and
classroom training at a canine training program center.
Successful graduates of the training program are certified
handlers perform the same duties as agents who do not work
with canines. Canine handlers also receive the same
compensation as agents who do not work with canines, except
that canine handlers receive additional pay for hours
dedicated to canine care and maintenance training.
canine handlers may seek additional certification as
"canine instructors." Seeking canine instructor
certification is voluntary. Certified canine instructors may
take on collateral duties to help canine handlers maintain
their certification, but canine instructors do not receive a
pay raise, new title, or any other additional compensation
absent a promotion. Agents who do not seek or secure canine
instructor certification do not suffer any adverse
consequences with respect to their existing jobs. They are
not demoted, disciplined, or precluded from later seeking
certification. Agents are nonetheless motivated to obtain
canine instructor certification in order to "mak[e] that
next step in [their] career" and to potentially become a
"course development instructor or . . . to be maybe an
assistant director, even director." J.A. 165-66
(Bordeaux Dep. Tr.).
Detection Canine Instructor Course
obtain canine instructor certification, agents must enroll in
CBP's Detection Canine Instructor Course
("DCIC"), a voluntary, twelve-week training
program. CBP solicits interest in the DCIC by circulating
memoranda that advertise the program and advise agents how to
apply. Agents interested in attending the DCIC must submit an
application and undergo a competitive interview process. The
DCIC trains student instructors through a combination of
classroom instruction, hands-on training, and field-work.
the time period relevant to this case, student instructors
were required to meet certain performance standards and to
pass all exams with a minimum score of 90%. Students were
also graded on their completion of paperwork that certified
instructors used to evaluate the performance of the detection
canines ("white sheets") and canine handlers
regular day at the DCIC lasted eight hours (6:00 am to 2:00
pm). Student instructors received their full compensation for
those hours. But students testified that successful passage
of the exams required substantial studying during off-hours.
Students also testified that they spent substantial off-hours
time completing green sheets and white sheets. Students were
not compensated for any ...