Pittsburgh Settles FLSA Overtime Suit By Officers

The city of Pittsburgh has settled a class action lawsuit filed in federal court by fire officers claiming they were wrongfully denied overtime compensation.

The suit was originally brought last August by Deputy Chief Harry Scherer, Battalion Chief Robert Cox and Captain Edmund J. Farley under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The officers claim they were wrongfully denied overtime for hours worked in excess of 212 in a 28 day period (or an average of 53 hours per week).

The city’s position was the officers were exempt supervisory employees ineligible for overtime. However, under revisions to the FLSA in 2004, virtually all line firefighting positions must be treated as hourly positions.

Over fifty other fire fighters subsequently joined the suit. The case was recently assigned for mediation prior to the settlement being announced. The exact terms of the settlement have not been released, nor do they appear in any court documents.

The suit sought back pay going back three years, the maximum FLSA allows recovery for. The city had settled a similar lawsuit in 2011 filed by police officers,  paying more than $900,000 in penalties and attorneys’ fees.

Here is a copy of the original complaint. Pittsburgh

The department has been in the news lately as local officials struggle to cope with overspending on overtime. Given that the department is 140 firefighters short, the overtime problem should come as no surprise. Of course that does not stop some politicians from placing the blame on the firefighters…



About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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