The City of Las Vegas has agreed to pay a veteran city firefighter $560,000 to settle a 2019 lawsuit for unpaid overtime. The settlement follows allegations of unpaid overtime made by Eric Scheumann, an 18-year veteran and current firefighter/engineer for the Las Vegas Fire Department. Scheumann alleged the city failed to pay him for more than 4,500 work hours between 2014 and 2018.
According to Scheumann, he and other unnamed firefighters regularly worked off-the-clock on “certain projects” for the benefit of the city. These projects were separate from their time spent working on-shift as LVFD employees. According to court documents, in addition to working his regular schedule as a firefighter/engineer for the Las Vegas Fire Department, Schaumann also was heavily involved in the specification process for the department’s fire apparatus, staff cars, and even ambulances. These court documents also allege the time spent on these secondary responsibilities was unpaid. Click here, for more on Schaumann’s specific allegations from Curt Varone’s Fire Law Blog.
The FLSA requires non-exempt employees, like Scheumann, be paid for all hours worked. Unpaid wage and hour claims made by current and former employees for working “off-the-clock” are on the rise. Off-the-clock work occurs when overtime eligible employees perform work without being paid. Employers have an obligation to pay employees for all the work they perform. This includes work that the employer may not have even requested.
The prospect of tackling off-the-clock work may seem overwhelming for some employers, however with the proper knowledge and tools employers can minimize this potential liability. First, employers need to understand and identify the various types of off-the-clock claims that are being filed in the fire service today. Second, employers need to develop policies and procedures dedicated to address off-the-clock work. These policies should include at a minimum:
- Rules regarding which employees can authorize overtime and conversely which employees cannot authorize overtime.
- Reasonable procedures allowing employees to report unplanned/unscheduled worktime.
- Maintenance and preservation of accurate records as required by both the FLSA and state and local wage and hour regulations.
- Anti-retaliation and open-door complaint procedures pertaining to compensation practices.
These simple policies and procedures can serve as the foundation for defending your organization from off-the-clock overtime claims.