Calif. firefighters settle overtime pay lawsuit for $155K

Union officials say the 44 firefighters were deprived overtime pay due to an oversight, not wrongdoing


By Gary Klien
The Marin Independent Journal

MARIN COUNTY, Calif. — The Southern Marin Fire Protection District has reached a $155,000 settlement with dozens of current and former firefighters who claimed they were deprived of full overtime compensation.

Jason Golden, president of the firefighters' union, said the association withdrew its federal lawsuit July 19 after the district agreed to remit back pay and a portion of the union's legal fees.

Golden said he expects the money will be paid in a lump sum in the next few weeks. He described the underpayments as an accounting oversight rather than wrongdoing by the district.

"I think we worked well with the district and came to an agreement that was reasonable for both sides," he said. "We're happy with the outcome."

The $155,000 covers all the firefighters and the attorney's fees, according to a summary provided to the board of directors. The board is scheduled to approve the settlement when it meets on Wednesday.

The payments to individual firefighters range from $131.13 to $8,124.16. The district has an annual budget of about $14 million.

The lawsuit was filed on Feb. 16 in U.S. District Court in Oakland. The firefighters alleged the district violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by understating the regular pay rate upon which overtime is calculated.

The lawsuit involved the firefighters' special work schedule, which is 48 straight hours of work, followed by four days off. The cycle occurs four times in a 24-day pay cycle, adding up to 192 hours on the clock every 24 days.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the lawsuit said, the employees must be compensated at time-and-a-half after 182 hours, or another 10 hours per pay cycle. When calculating the overtime rate, the fire district included wages in the regular pay rate but failed to figure in other premium compensation such as holiday pay, longevity pay and housing allowances, the firefighters alleged.

The alleged miscalculations occurred in the payroll cycles prior to April 2, 2015, the suit says.

In addition to Golden, the union president, the plaintiffs included Jeffrey Allen, Jon Alper, Yvette Blount, Matthew Bouchard, Bret Burger, Charles Casalnuovo, Michael Coleman, Brian Coman, Robert Delong, Peter Falk, Mark Fischer, Travis Fox, Joe Frazier, Daniel Gemma, Cary Gloeckner, Peter Gundolff, Ian Hanson, George Earl Hart, David Lloyd, Michael Martinez, John McHugh, Bruno Missio, Adam Monte, James Moore, Thomas Moran, James O'Connor, Kenny O'Reilly, Kai Pasquale, Douglas Paterson, Benjamin Pope, Ben Powers, Tim Pratt, Dean Raffaini, Ronald Rosser, Jeff Smiley, Brett Stone, Cordi Sullivan, Ryan Tokuda, Brandon Treat, Tony Vitalie, Adam Vollmer, Laurence Yoell and Dennis Young.

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(c)2016 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.)

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