Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government has agreed to settle a long-standing overtime dispute with its firefighters for a reported $17.7 million. The case was originally filed in November, 2005 in Fayette Circuit Court by 430 current and former firefighters who claimed the county had miscalculated their overtime compensation.
The case took a convoluted route over the ensuing years as the trial court ruled against the firefighters in 2007 based on sovereign immunity. In 2010, the Kentucky Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court, but had to reverse itself in 2012 after the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled in another fire department case, Madison County Fiscal v. Kentucky Labor, 352 S.W.3d 572 (Ky. 2011), that the Kentucky legislature waived sovereign immunity for wage and hour matters.
Thereafter, it was no longer a question of whether Lexington-Fayette County had to pay, but rather how much and when. While the $17.7 million is a large amount, it not unprecedented. Louisville, Kentucky had to pay its firefighters $45 million in 2009 under virtually identical circumstances.