FLSA Suit Settled in Oklahoma

A lawsuit filed last year by 31 Chickasha, Oklahoma firefighters contending the city violated the Fair Labor Standards Act has been settled for $141,710.91. The firefighters claimed that the city failed to include longevity pay in their regular rate when calculating overtime compensation.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. Here is more on the original filing from FirefighterOvertime.org. Here is a copy of the original complaint.

The settlement was reached yesterday and approved by the Chickasha City Council. According to the Express-Star, the city council also approved a memorandum of understanding with IAFF Local 2041 pending a new collective bargaining agreement. More on the story.

For those not familiar with the term regular rate and its connection to wage augments such as longevity pay, let’s review. A common mistake is to assume an employee’s regular rate is their normal hourly rate, or the rate specified in an employment agreement. However, regular rate as defined in the FLSA must include all remuneration paid to the employee. Thus additional payments such as longevity pay, acting out of rank/step-up pay, shift differentials, incentives and similar wage augments must be factored into regular rate. As explained by Bill Maccarone at FirefighterOvertime.com, the topic is both important and challenging:

Proper calculation of an employee’s regular rate is critical. All FLSA overtime must be paid at a rate not less-than time and one-half of the employee’s regular rate. Failure to include all remuneration in an employee’s regular rate will result in shorting that employees overtime rate of pay, which will in-turn likely violate the FLSA. Calculating the correct regular rate can be especially challenging… . In fact, allegations of regular rate violations continue to be the leading claim made by firefighters in FLSA lawsuits today.

Don’t miss our upcoming advanced FLSA webinar: Advanced FLSA: I Think We Screwed Up, What Do We Do Now? August 16, 2021 – 1PM Eastern.

We also have the following programs coming up this fall:

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) for Fire Departments October 5-8, 2021 Information / Register On-Line

Advanced FLSA for Fire Departments: Calculating Regular Rate for Firefighters and other First Responders October 20, 2021 Information / Register On-Line

Advanced FLSA for Fire Departments: Managing Firefighters’ Hours Worked in the 21st Century – Off-the-Clock Work November 17, 2021 Information / Register On-Line

Advanced FLSA for Fire Departments: Executive Exemption and Overtime December 15, 2021 Information / Register On-Line

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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