Wilmington Settles FLSA Overtime Suit with Battalion Chiefs for $459k

The City of Wilmington has agreed to settle an FLSA overtime suit brought last year by six current and former battalion chiefs for $459,695.36. The chiefs claim they were improperly classified as exempt executives, and not paid for the extra hours they were required to work.

The joint motion for settlement approval provided the following details:

  • Plaintiffs alleged that the City failed to properly compensate them with overtime pay at one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of the applicable overtime threshold—212 hours for a 28-day work period—under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
  • The City denied that it violated the FLSA and asserted numerous defenses including, without limitation, that Plaintiffs are properly classified as exempt from the overtime requirements of the FLSA and a good faith defense to liquidated damages.
  • The City also maintains that it has at all times acted in good faith, in conformity with and in reliance upon applicable law in its exemption classification decisions and payment of wages to Plaintiffs.
  • Nevertheless, the Parties agreed to exchange relevant documents and discuss whether the matter could be settled.
  • Most significantly, Defendant produced Plaintiffs’ timekeeping and payroll data to Plaintiffs, and, after a thorough analysis, Plaintiffs shared their damages calculations with Defendant. Defendant similarly shared its calculation of potential damages.
  • Thereafter, the Parties exchanged offers and counteroffers and participated in multiple conferences to discuss the Parties’ proposals and damages calculations.
  • During these negotiations, the parties jointly submitted motions to the Court to extend the deadline for Defendant to file its Answer.
  • On March 11, 2024, the Parties reached an agreement in principle to resolve the case.

The settlement breaks down as follows:

  • $215,015.93 in backpay,
  • $215,015.93 in liquidated damages, and
  • $29,663.50 in reimbursed attorneys’ fees and expenses.

Attached is a copy of the joint motion for settlement, which provides analysis required for the court to approve these types of lawsuits.

BTW – tomorrow April 18, 2024 – we will be discussing the right of fire officers – including battalion chiefs – to receive overtime. Please join us for Advanced FLSA: Fire Officers and Overtime.

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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