Two deputy fire chiefs with the Arlington, Texas Fire Department have filed a lawsuit alleging the City of Arlington fails to pay them overtime as required by Texas law. The complaint, which was filed in Tarrant County, Texas, on the behalf of Deputy Fire Chiefs Troy Brooks and Scott Hofstrom, contains several basic allegations. Quoting from the complaint:
- During all times relevant to this suit, Defendant has been subject to the requirements of TEX. LOC. GOV’T CODE § 142.0015. Defendant uses a 28-day work period for operations fire fighters. Accordingly, those fire fighters must be paid overtime premiums for hours worked in excess of 212 in a work period. Non-operations fire fighters are entitled to overtime premiums for hours worked in excess of 40 in a week.
- Plaintiffs are fire fighters employed by Defendant in the Arlington Fire Department (“AFD”) as Deputy Chiefs. Deputy Chiefs are two ranks below the Fire Chief at AFD. Deputy Chiefs report to Assistant Chiefs, who in turn report to the Fire Chief. The rank of Deputy Chief is not an equivalent classification to Assistant Chief at AFD.
- Both Plaintiffs are operations fire fighters who regularly work more than 212 hours in a work period. During the limitations period, Plaintiff Hofstrom worked as a non-operations fire fighter, and during that time he regularly worked more than 40 hours in a week. Defendant has failed to compensate Plaintiffs for their hours worked in excess of the applicable overtime thresholds at rates equal to 1-1/2 times the compensation paid to Plaintiffs for regular hours.
- Defendant has violated and continues to violate Plaintiffs’ rights under TEX. LOC. GOV’T CODE § 142.0015 to be paid for overtime hours at the rate of “1-1/2 times the compensation paid to the fire fighter or member of the fire department for regular hours.”
Surprisingly, the complaint does not allege that either deputy chief is eligible for overtime under the FLSA. State wage and hour laws often provide more enhanced or greater overtime protections than mandated by federal law. Whether high ranking fire and EMS officers can be properly classified as overtime exempt employees is one of the hottest topics in wage and hour litigation involving fire departments today. Currently, lawsuits are pending in Georgia, California, and Virginia over that precise issue.
Do you have questions about fire officers and overtime? If yes, please consider attending our next Advanced FLSA webinar series entitled: Executive Exemption: Fire Officers and Overtime. In this live webinar we take a “deep dive” into why some fire officers can be properly classified as overtime exempt “white-collar” employees, while others are entitled to federally mandated overtime. Our next offering is less than a week away on October 5, 2022, at 1 pm EST. Click here, for more information.
Here is the copy of the complaint and click here for more on the story from WFAA News.