West Virginia Firefighters Allege City Failed to Pay Overtime Correctly

Fifty-eight Morgantown, West Virginia firefighters have filed a lawsuit alleging the City of Morgantown failed to pay overtime as required under West Virginia state law. The crux of the firefighter’s argument stems from a very unique West Virginia statute that requires time-and-one-half pay for firefighters required to work holidays. Here is a portion of that statute:

§8-15-10a. Firemen who are required to work during holidays; how compensated.

From the effective date of this section, if any member of a paid fire department is required to work during a legal holiday as is specified in subsection (a), section one, article two, chapter two of this code, or if a legal holiday falls on the member’s regular scheduled day off, he or she shall be allowed equal time off at such time as may be approved by the chief executive officer of the department under whom he or she serves or, in the alternative, shall be paid at a rate not less than one and one-half times his or her regular rate of pay: Provided, That if a special election of a political subdivision other than a municipality falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the municipality may choose not to recognize the day of the election as a holiday if a majority of the municipality’s city council votes not to recognize the day of the election as a holiday.

Morgantown firefighters claim the city failed to follow the requirements of this statute for “many years.” State statutes that exceed the basic requirements of federal law are not unusual. Here, the state of West Virginia has enacted this “firefighter-only” statute aimed directly at enhancing wage and hour benefits for firefighters that may be required to work holidays. These types of laws are becoming more common in many parts of the country. Employers need to be especially cognizant of state and even local regulations that could effect wages paid and benefits provided to employees.

Coincidentally, this is not the first time West Virginia firefighters have decided to file a lawsuit over holiday pay and overtime. Curt Varone covered a virtually identical suit filed by Martinsburg, WV firefighters last July on his Fire Law Blog. Click Here for more on that story.

For more on the Morgantown lawsuit including a copy of the firefighters’ complaint, click here.

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