According to AFGE Local 4060, the union that represents thousands of Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] workers, a $16.5 million settlement has been reached following a 2018 grievance for unpaid overtime. According to the union’s president Steven Reaves the bulk of the settlement funds will be distributed to effected employees based on various factors and data and will likely take months to formulate.
According to an attorney that represented the workers, FEMA misclassified many workers as overtime exempt employees in violation of the FLSA. As a result, many employees were not properly compensated for overtime hours worked or offered compensatory time in lieu of FLSA overtime. The union and FEMA agreed to change the way workers are potentially classified as overtime exempt moving forward. The parties agreed to develop a process to match an employee’s critical job functions (a.k.a. primary duty) against the exemption being applied. This was done in an effort to avoid future misclassification.
At this time, there are few additional details related to either the settlement or the workers’ claims, although more information will likely be forthcoming in the future. Additionally, there is no indication why the union and its members sought to pursue arbitration in lieu of litigation. However, the union’s attorney openly praised the way FEMA worked proactively to resolve this grievance in a timely manner and avoided protracted arbitration or litigation.
Here is more on the settlement from the Federal News Network.