Georgia Battalion Chief Files FLSA Suit For Unpaid Overtime

A battalion chief who recently left the Lumpkin County Fire Department has filed suit claiming she was improperly categorized as an exempt employee, and improperly denied overtime. Sharon Booth filed suit November 30, 2022 against seeking back wages for the past three years.

Chief Booth was employed by the Lumpkin County Fire Department from 2008 till October, 2022. She was promoted to battalion chief in 2012.

According to the complaint:

  • While Plaintiff was employed as a Battalion Chief, her primary duties included fighting fires, rescuing fire and accident victims, and minimizing property damage from accidents and fires.
  • While Plaintiff was employed as a Battalion Chief, she was trained in fire suppression and emergency medical services, had the legal authority and responsibility to engage in fire suppression, was employed by a fire department of a county and was engaged in the prevention, control, and extinguishment of fires or response to emergency situations where life, property, or the environment was at risk.
  • As a Battalion Chief, Plaintiff’s primary duty was to fight fires, rescue fire and accident victims, and minimize property damage from accidents and fires.
  • In performing her job duties for Defendant, Plaintiff did not have the authority to hire or fire any employee.
  • In performing her job duties for Defendant, Plaintiff did not exercise any discretion or independent judgment with regard to matters of significance.
  • Plaintiff’s job duties did not include primary work that requires knowledge of any advanced type in a field customarily acquired by prolonged, specialized, intellectual instruction or study.
  • While Plaintiff would direct the work of other firefighters and rescue personnel at the scene of the calls on which she responded, Plaintiff also performed the work of fire extinguishment and rescue of accident victims.
  • Defendant paid Plaintiff a flat salary regardless of the amount of hours Plaintiff worked.
  • Defendant denied Plaintiff payment of overtime wage compensation required by the FLSA for any hours working in excess of 212 hours in any given twenty-eight (28) day work period, or in excess of 40 hours in any work week Plaintiff also regularly performed work while not on shift and for which Defendant did not maintain accurate time records. Such work included, but was not limited to, attending a monthly Battalion Chiefs’ meeting which lasted approximately four hours on average.
  • Other regular work performed by Plaintiff on days she was not scheduled to work and for which Defendant did not maintain accurate time records included attending meetings, answering phone calls, receiving and sending text messages and emails, serving on “on-call’ capacity, completing evaluations and reports, responding to emergencies, scheduling and other tasks.
  • Defendant willfully and/or deliberately failed to pay Plaintiff her earned overtime wages for hours in violation of the FLSA.

Here is a copy of the complaint:

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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