DECATUR, Ala. — Firefighters for the City of Hanceville filed a wage and overtime pay lawsuit against the city in mid-December 2014 in Alabama federal court. The firefighters claim they are owed back wages for unpaid overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Because of the highly important and necessary work firefighters perform, under the FLSA, firefighters are entitled to overtime wages. However, they are not typically subject to the same 40-hour workweek requirements as most employees who receive overtime.
The Firefighters’ Claims
Four Hanceville firefighters brought the initial lawsuit. Three of the four continue to work for the Hanceville Fire Department, while the fourth was terminated in mid-October 2014. The firefighters had worked for the city for at least four years prior to filing the lawsuit. In their claim, the firefighters allege they regularly work 216 hours during a four-week period, which is the typical time period for determining overtime for firefighters. Yet they claim they never receive the overtime they were owed.
According to one of the firefighters, he raised the issue of overtime wages with both the current and former fire chiefs and the mayor prior to October 2014, yet nothing was ever done to address his concerns. Furthermore, the current fire chief claims he was not aware of any potential or actual issues with the overtime the firefighters are or are not receiving. The four firefighters believe that other firefighters could be included in the lawsuit, if it moves forwards.
Special Overtime Rules
The FLSA provides exemptions for certain jobs like executives, administrators, learned professionals, and outside sales employees. The FLSA also provides for special rules and guidelines for government employees in fire and other safety-related positions. Firefighters, in particular, usually have schedules and work demands which make it difficult to enforce the typical 40-hour workweek and overtime laws. Firefighters typically work longer shifts, but fewer days each week. They may also remain on-call at all times and may sleep on premises during their shifts. These features make it difficult for towns, cities, and states to calculate a budget if firefighters were paid hourly and based on a typical 40-hour workweek. For this, and other reasons, the FLSA guidelines for firefighters provide overtime pay for firefighters who work more than 212 hours in a 28-day period. If the Hanceville firefighters are working 216 hours in a 28-day period they should be receiving overtime for the 4 additional hours they work.
If you are a firefighter or engaged in fire protection services and you believe you have not received the overtime wages you have earned, you may have an overtime claim. Call our knowledgeable team of overtime pay lawyers at (855) 754-2795 to discuss your situation. Or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form and our experienced legal team will evaluate your case. If we accept your case, we will represent you under our No Fee Promise. This means there are no legal fees or costs unless you receive a settlement.