Montgomery County, Tennessee has reached a settlement with two supervisory paramedics following a 2019 FLSA lawsuit for unpaid overtime. Emergency Medical Services Captain Gary Perry initially filed the lawsuit, on October 28, 2019. Perry’s main allegation related to the county’s failure to pay him and other EMS Captains overtime as required by the FLSA. Perry also claimed the county misclassified all EMS Captains as overtime exempt employees.
The settlement, which was approved by the court in late September, required the county pay a total of two plaintiffs, Captains Perry and Daniel Norfleet, a lump sum of $13,400 each to settle their claims associated with the suit. Additionally, the settlement required the county pay Perry and Norfleet’s attorneys an additional $13,200 in fees. As is typical with these types of settlements, the county denied the underlying claims and the plaintiffs agreed to waive all current and future litigation related to any wage and hour claims.
However, this settlement serves as a good example of the uncertainty surrounding claiming a “white-collar” overtime exemption for any first responder. Public employers are wise to examine the responsibilities and job functions of all overtime exempt employees within their organization. This is especially true for any first responders that are classified as overtime exempt. Whether an employee meets the various requirements associated with the FLSA’s “white-collar” overtime exemptions depend on the specific facts at hand. Some employees can be rightfully classified as overtime exempt, while others may not. It all depends on the facts. Misclassifying employees as overtime exempt is a common and preventable cause of litigation for many public employers.
For more on the original suit, including a copy of the complaint.
Here is a copy of the settlement documents.