California City settles FLSA dispute with firefighters for over $1 million

The City of Chula Vista, California has agreed to pay over 100 firefighters just over $1 million in back wages and other damages for FLSA violations. The firefighters filed a lawsuit to recover back wages and additional damages in August of 2016. The firefighters claimed the city failed to calculate the regular rate of pay correctly.

Proper calculation of the regular rate is critical since FLSA overtime must be at least one and one-half times the regular rate. Courts have referred to the regular rate as the “linch-pin” of the FLSA. Additionally, properly calculating the regular rate is not always easy, in fact the U.S. Supreme Court has even written this process can be “perplexing.”

Here, Chula Vista firefighters claimed the city failed to include several wage augments in the regular rate of pay for FLSA overtime purposes. In particular, extra money paid to firefighters for being bilingual, working out of grade, and working on a “fire suppression team” should have been included in the regular rate. The firefighters sought three years of back pay, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees in the original complaint.

The city agreed to settle the firefighters’ claims regarding these wage augments. Here are some of the highlights from the settlement:

  • Firefighters will receive $538,890.79 in back wages.
  • Firefighters will also receive $470,426.02 in liquidated damages.
  • The firefighters’ attorneys will receive $30,300 in fees and expenses related to the short-lived lawsuit.

There are copies of both the original complaint and the final settlement below. This is just one of many topics discussed in depth at all of the upcoming FLSA for Fire Department seminars. Please consider joining us.

Chula Vista FF FLSA Complaint

Chula Vista FF FLSA Final Settlement

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