Savannah Captains Sue Over Pay Differential

A class action lawsuit has been filed against the City of Savannah by fifty fire captains who are claiming the city has been underpaying them, in some cases paying them less than their subordinates.

The suit filed Monday in Chatham County Superior Court claims that the city has been ignoring its own compensation policies by underpaying some captains in an effort to save money. It names the City and City Manager Stephanie Cutter.

At the heart of the suit is a requirement in the city’s Human Resources Policy Manual that requires supervisors receive at least 5% more than their highest paid subordinate. The city allegedly stopped complying with the policy resulting in some supervisors making less than their subordinates. According to the complaint:

“Rather than basing pay decisions on the City of Savannah Human Resources Policy Manual, the City Manager, or her designees, determines pay based on personal favoritism and bias.”

The attorney for the captains, John Hafemann, was quoted by WTOC as saying “For the last 6 months these guys have been trying to meet with the city manager and city attorney, and using their chain of command to try to resolve this issue, and they have been completely ignored.”

The complaint alleges the violation of a statutory obligation, breach of contract, and a violation of equal protection.

Here is a copy of the complaint: Shelnutt v City of Savannah

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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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