The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced that the Charter Township of Van Buren, Michigan has paid $54,945 in back wages to forty-eight current and former township employees, including police officers and firefighters. The announcement was made following an investigation by the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, the arm of the DOL tasked with enforcing the FLSA, following a whistleblower complaint from a township employee.
According to the DOL’s press release, the township failed to pay some employees for time spent working before their scheduled shifts and pay overtime to some police officers and firefighters when required by the FLSA. Specifically, the township had a practice of paying police officers and firefighters straight time for training hours, regardless of the number of hours worked by these employees during the work period. The FLSA does not automatically require overtime pay when employees are engaged in job-related training. However, the FLSA requires overtime pay for firefighters and police officers for all hours worked in excess of the FLSA’s maximum hours standard for each work period.
For example, if a firefighter works forty-eight hours assigned to a truck in the station and another four hours participating in required job-related training, there is no FLSA requirement to pay any overtime for the week. The firefighter did not exceed his or her maximum hours for the work period. The FLSA sets the maximum hours threshold of 53 hours for a 7-day work period. (I.e., the FLSA requires firefighters receive overtime for all hours worked over 53 in a 7-day work period.) However, if the firefighter works the same forty-eight hours assigned to a truck and another ten hours participated in required fire training, the firefighter would be entitled to at least five hours of FLSA overtime. The firefighter worked 58 hours during that 7-day work period.
Click here for a copy of the DOL’s press release.