More than 2,000 current and former California state firefighters will receive a total of $4.1 million in back wages following a settlement with the state of California. According to the Sacramento Bee, the back wages stem from hours worked while the firefighters were trainees at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Academy.
These firefighter cadets were paid for 16 hours of work per day while in the training academy. The firefighters were considered “off-duty” from midnight until 8 a.m. However, fire academy instructors often woke cadets early to conduct drills well-before the 8 a.m. shift start time. The state of California failed to pay the cadets for these additional hours of work.
Affected firefighters will each receive approximately $1,600 in back wages.
The FLSA requires employers pay employees for all hours suffered or permitted to work. Fire department chiefs and senior officers must be vigilant to ensure firefighter recruits are paid for all hours worked. Well-meaning academy instructors can inadvertently set the stage for wage and hour violations and eventual lawsuits by requiring recruits to perform work while off-duty. This is one of many topics covered in depth at all of the FLSA for Fire Department seminars. Please consider joining us.
Here is more on the story from the Sacramento Bee.