Lawyers representing almost one-hundred Morgantown, West Virginia firefighters and police officers filed four separate lawsuits against the city this past week. In addition to the lawsuits, the unions that represent the city’s police officers and firefighters also announced “no-confidence” votes in the city council, city manager, and human resources director. The firefighters and police officers claim that recent reductions in their pay and benefits amounted to violations of the state’s civil service and whistle-blower laws, the West Virginia Wage, Payment and Collection Act, and retaliation.
More specifically, the firefighters allege several reductions in firefighter pay and benefits, implemented on July 1 of this year, were in made as retaliation following their 2019 lawsuit over improper holiday pay. According to the firefighters, the city eliminated master firefighter pay (an extra form of compensation for firefighters with more than 10 years on the department), hazard pay, shift differential pay, and emergency overtime pay. Additionally, the city capped the amount of paid time off firefighters can accrue.
Claims made by the city’s police officers are similar. The officers allege recent changes in leave accrual (sick, vacation, holiday, and compensatory time) in addition to the elimination of longevity and hazard pay were the result of illegal retaliation following various legal challenges brought against the city by the police officer’s union in recent years.
Meanwhile, a previous lawsuit between the city and the firefighters’ union is on appeal before the West Virginia Supreme Court after a lower court judge found for the city. Click here for more on the story.