A lawsuit initially filed by only four Flagstaff, Arizona firefighters last September has ended with a court approved settlement between the city and a total of thirty-one firefighters. The firefighters alleged the city failed to include all remuneration in some firefighter’s regular rate of pay. In particular, the firefighters claimed the city failed to include certain “premium payments” paid to directly to firefighters for “assignments which bear a heightened level of physical risk above the norm of the job, or which require special skills or additional certification and/or continuing education above and beyond the minimum requirements of the position” in their regular rate. For more on the initial complaint:
Since all FLSA overtime must be paid at a rate not less than time and one-half of the firefighter’s regular rate, failing to include all compensation in a firefighter’s regular rate will result in the firefighter being shorted on their overtime rate. As a general rule, the FLSA and Department of Labor (DOL) regulations require payments like these included in the regular rate.
According to the settlement documents, the city acknowledged “an error in the methodology for calculating the amount of overtime pay” for its firefighters. This error resulted in some firefighters being overpaid, while other firefighters were underpaid. The city maintains that it acted in good faith at all times and that any compensation errors were unintentional.
The settlement agreement calls for the city to pay the firefighters and their legal counsel a total of $33,081.64 to settle all claims associated with the FLSA suit. The thirty-one plaintiffs will receive a total of $2,790.82 to settle all unpaid overtime claims and an additional $2,790.82 for liquidated damages. Each plaintiff will receive a pro rata share of these funds based upon the amount of money they were owed. The payments range from a low of only $15.22 for one plaintiff, to a high of $507.76 for another. The lion’s share of the settlement is allocated for the law firm that represented the firefighters. The firm will receive $27,500 in fees and costs associated with bringing the lawsuit.
Here is a copy of the settlement agreement: