Texas Refinery Firefighters File FLSA Suit for Overtime

Two former industrial firefighters at the port of Corpus Christi, Texas have filed a Federal lawsuit alleging they were wrongfully not paid overtime for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week.

Joe Dale Martinez and Fidencio Lopez Jr. worked for a privately owned firefighting cooperative group named Refinery Terminal Fire Co.  and owned by industrial companies including Calpine Corp., Citgo Corpus Christi Refinery, Diamond Shamrock’s Corpus Christi facility, Elementis Chromium, the Lyondell Chemical Corpus Christi plant, El Paso Corp., Koch Pipeline Co., Flint Hills Resources, the Port of Corpus Christi Authority and Valero Refining.

The suit seeks damages for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week, plus compensation for time they were required to be on-call, citing the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Most firefighters are familiar with the fact that the FLSA allows fire departments to exceed the 40 hour requirement for firefighters. In fact, firefighters can be required to work up to 53 hours a week prior to triggering the overtime requirement.  The little known provision that permits this is 29 USC §207(k).

The little known part of this little known provision is that it ONLY applies to public sector firefighter. Industrial firefighters and firefighter who work for private sector employers fall under the normal 40 hour per week requirements.

Here is a copy of the complaint.RefineryTerminalFireCo_Complaint_pdf

Here’s news cover of the suit.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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