B-160872, MAR. 7, 1967

B-160872: Mar 7, 1967

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GREEN: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 27. POST OFFICE DURING THE MONTH OF DECEMBER 1964 YOU WERE AUTHORIZED TO WORK 60 HOURS OVERTIME. AFTER THE COMPLETION OF 56 OF THOSE HOURS YOU WERE INFORMED THAT YOU WOULD NOT BE PAID ANY OVERTIME COMPENSATION FOR SUCH SERVICE BECAUSE THE AUTHORIZATION HAD BEEN IN ERROR AND NO LEGAL AUTHORITY EXISTED FOR THE PAYMENT OF OVERTIME IN YOUR CASE. THE COMPENSATION PAYABLE TO RURAL CARRIERS SUBJECT TO THE RURAL CARRIER SCHEDULE CONTAINED IN 39 U.S.C. 3542 IS NOT PREDICATED UPON THE LENGTH OF TIME WORKED. THE COMPENSATION OF RURAL CARRIERS IS COMPRISED OF TWO ELEMENTS. BY VIRTUE OF 39 U.S.C. 3575 RURAL CARRIERS ARE SPECIFICALLY EXCEPTED FROM THOSE PROVISIONS IN 39 U.S.C.

B-160872, MAR. 7, 1967

TO MR. RUSSELL H. GREEN:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 27, 1967, WHEREIN YOU REQUEST REVIEW OF OFFICE SETTLEMENT OF OCTOBER 25, 1966, DISALLOWING YOUR CLAIM FOR 56 HOURS OF OVERTIME COMPENSATION TO WHICH YOU CLAIM ENTITLEMENT FOR SERVICES RENDERED DURING THE MONTH OF DECEMBER 1964 AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT.

YOU STATE THAT AS A RURAL CARRIER AT THE SOMERVILLE, NEW JERSEY, POST OFFICE DURING THE MONTH OF DECEMBER 1964 YOU WERE AUTHORIZED TO WORK 60 HOURS OVERTIME, BUT AFTER THE COMPLETION OF 56 OF THOSE HOURS YOU WERE INFORMED THAT YOU WOULD NOT BE PAID ANY OVERTIME COMPENSATION FOR SUCH SERVICE BECAUSE THE AUTHORIZATION HAD BEEN IN ERROR AND NO LEGAL AUTHORITY EXISTED FOR THE PAYMENT OF OVERTIME IN YOUR CASE.

THE COMPENSATION PAYABLE TO RURAL CARRIERS SUBJECT TO THE RURAL CARRIER SCHEDULE CONTAINED IN 39 U.S.C. 3542 IS NOT PREDICATED UPON THE LENGTH OF TIME WORKED. RATHER, UNDER SUCH SCHEDULE, THE COMPENSATION OF RURAL CARRIERS IS COMPRISED OF TWO ELEMENTS, NAMELY, (1) FIXED COMPENSATION PER ANNUM, AND (2) COMPENSATION PER MILE (MILEAGE) FOR EACH MILE OF ROUTE LENGTH. MOREOVER, BY VIRTUE OF 39 U.S.C. 3575 RURAL CARRIERS ARE SPECIFICALLY EXCEPTED FROM THOSE PROVISIONS IN 39 U.S.C. RELATING TO MAXIMUM HOURS OF WORK (SECTION 3571) AS WELL AS THOSE PROVISIONS RELATING TO COMPENSATORY TIME AND OVERTIME COMPENSATION (SECTION 3573).

IN VIEW OF THE CONTROLLING STATUTORY PROVISIONS WE PERCEIVE NO PROPER BASIS UPON WHICH OVERTIME COMPENSATION COULD HAVE BEEN AUTHORIZED IN YOUR CASE INCIDENT TO YOUR SERVING YOUR RURAL ROUTE. IT IS TRUE THAT UNDER 39 U.S.C. 3543 THE POSTMASTER GENERAL IS AUTHORIZED TO PAY SUCH ADDITIONAL COMPENSATION TO RURAL CARRIERS SERVING HEAVILY PATRONIZED ROUTES THAT HE MAY DETERMINE TO BE FAIR AND REASONABLE IN INDIVIDUAL CASES. HOWEVER, DURING THE PERIOD IN QUESTION YOUR RURAL ROUTE HAD NOT BE CLASSIFIED AS HEAVILY PATRONIZED AND, THEREFORE, YOU WERE ENTITLED TO NOTHING MORE THAN THE COMPENSATION PROVIDED IN THE RURAL CARRIER SCHEDULE FOR SERVING A ROUTE EQUAL IN LENGTH TO YOUR ASSIGNED ROUTE.

IT IS A WELL-ESTABLISHED RULE THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF SPECIFIC AUTHORITY, THE UNITED STATES IS NOT LIABLE FOR THE ERRONEOUS ACTIONS OF ITS OFFICERS, AGENTS OR EMPLOYEES EVEN THOUGH COMMITTED IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR OFFICIAL DUTIES. SEE 19 COMP. GEN. 503; 22 ID. 221. WHILE IT IS REGRETTABLE THAT YOUR OVERTIME AUTHORIZATION WAS GIVEN IN ERROR, NEVERTHELESS, UNDER THE CONTROLLING STATUTORY PROVISIONS THERE WAS NO AUTHORITY TO PAY OVERTIME COMPENSATION FOR THE 56 HOURS OF SERVICE. THEREFORE, THE SETTLEMENT OF OCTOBER 25, 1966, IS SUSTAINED.