RICHMOND — Fairfax County in Northern Virginia recently agreed to settle an unpaid overtime lawsuit with its fire captains over allegations the plaintiffs were misclassified as overtime exempt to avoid paying these officers extra wages. While the proposed settlement still needs final approval from the county council, the $7.85 million resolution is expected to pass, along with another $1.4 million in attorneys’ fees to cover the plaintiffs’ cost of litigation.
Filed by 176 fire captains in 2014, the suit claims the plaintiffs were actually first responders and not administrators as they were designated by the county. Fire captains are the fifth highest ranked officer in the department’s chain of command but are also critical to firefighting and emergency response a fire engine cannot leave the station without its captain on board.
The county contended the captains other duties of performing evaluations, creating disciplinary reports, and implementing changes to station policies made them administrators under the Fair Labor Standards Act and therefore could be classified as overtime exempt. However, a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals Fourth Circuit sided with the fire captains, returning the case to the lower District Court where the two sides ultimately came to an agreement to settle the case.
Since the Appeals Court handed down its ruling, Fairfax County began paying its fire captains one and a half times their regular rate of pay when they work more than 212-hours in a 28-day work-cycle. The settlement covers fire captains who spent more than 40-hours on the job from January 3, 2011 to September 16, 2016.
While employers should know better than to misclassify their workers to avoid paying overtime, the sad truth is that many feel they can get away with wage theft and twist the law to fit their definition of an overtime exempt worker. Workers who feel as though their employer is taking advantage of them should strongly consider speaking to an experienced overtime pay lawsuit attorney about their case.
Firefighter Unpaid Overtime Lawsuits
Call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page if you believe that your wage rights are being violated under the FLSA. Our top-rated team of unpaid wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action to help you seek justice.
Our office will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. Because strict time limitations apply for filing these types of claims, we advise you contact our experienced unpaid overtime wage attorneys at your earliest convenience and preserve your legal rights.