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Firefighters Settle Overtime Claim For $1.5 Million

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Firefighters for the city of Battle Creek, Michigan, have settled their overtime lawsuit against the city.

The firefighters claimed they were not paid for all of the overtime they were entitled to in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In the settlement agreement, the city’s firefighters will share in the $1.5 million award.

The Firefighter Action

Seventy firefighters employed by the city of Battle Creek filed their claim in federal court in October 2013.

Their claim came after the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) completed an investigation of the matter and found the city to have violated the FLSA.

The firefighters claimed the city rounded their hours down which resulted in a failure to pay proper overtime. In their lawsuit, they were seeking around $1 million in back pay and damages.

The city, of course, denied the allegations that it violated the wage laws, even after the investigation was completed.

The Settlement

The DOL initially determined that the city would be liable for more than $250,000. It later reduced the amount to $73,265 due to the bargaining agreement in effect for the firefighters.

The bargaining agreement provided additional compensatory time for every 53-hour week the firefighters worked.

Despite the DOL’s determination, under the terms of the current settlement, the city will pay $1.17 million in damages, including $585,000 in back wages.

All but ten Battle Creek firefighters will share in the settlement. The remaining ten accepted the checks they were offered and did not join in the lawsuit.

Firefighter Overtime

As a general rule, firefighters are not exempt from overtime pay. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. For instance, if a public agency employs less than five employees during a workweek in fire protection activities, then the fire protection employees may be exempted from overtime. Additionally, employers may provide compensatory time in lieu of overtime pay, but the compensatory time must be at a rate equal to or greater than one and a half hours for each overtime hour worked. It is also possible for firefighters, like the ones in Battle Creek, to negotiate the terms of their overtime or compensatory time in their bargaining agreements. However, even with negotiated terms, the terms still must meet the minimum requirements of state and federal laws and the employers must fully comply with the negotiated terms.

Whether you are firefighter or law enforcement officer, you are likely entitled to overtime pay when you work more than 40 hours a week, or the negotiated amount of time in your bargaining agreement. If you believe your employer has been denying you compensation for all of the hours you have worked, you can complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form and our knowledgeable legal team will assess your case. Or you can call our top-rated team of overtime pay lawyers today at (855) 754-2795. Under our No Fee Promise, if we accept your case, we will represent you at no cost to you unless you receive a settlement.

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