San Luis Obispo Firefighters Sue for Unpaid Overtime

San Luis Obispo Firefighters Sue for Unpaid Overtime

LOS ANGELS — A group of firefighters from the San Luis Obispo Fire Department recently filed a class action unpaid overtime lawsuit against the city alleging their overtime wages were intentionally miscalculated and are owed years of back pay. The city had a similar dispute with an employee back in 2003, which the plaintiffs’ union points out as proof San Luis Obispo deliberately failed to comply with state and federal wage laws.

The claims seeks three years of unpaid overtime wages, the most allowed under the Fair Labor Standards Act since the lawsuit alleges the defendant intentionally violated federal wage and labor laws. Additionally, the claim demands the city provide complete and accurate accounting of all the plaintiffs’ wages and hours worked.

In 2012 and 2016, the city entered into agreement with the firefighters to pay these employees one and a half times the regular rate of pay for working overtime hours. According to the complaint, the city underpaid two dozen firefighters by failing to include cash payments given to employees carrying their own health insurance in lieu of drawing from benefits provided by the city.

Appeals Court Upholds Employer’s Duty to Include Cash Benefits in Overtime Wages

In 2003, the Department of Labor essentially put the city of San Luis Obispo on notice by issuing an opinion clearly stating the city was to include cash benefits when calculating overtime. In a similar opinion handed down by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals the court upheld an employer’s obligation to include cash benefits as part of the worker’s regular rate of pay as part of overtime wages.

Reports indicate the defendant immediately began to review its overtime pay procedures after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion, suggesting the case could come to an expedient resolution. Furthermore, the plaintiffs’ suit should help to ensure the city complies with the Fair Labor Standards Act and other wage laws moving forward so other hard working employees do not suffer from wage theft.

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