Ind. firefighters sue city for denial of OT pay

Firefighters claim in a federal lawsuit they have been denied overtime pay for nearly a decade


Bob Kasarda
The Times, Munster, Ind.

CHESTERTON — Local firefighters claim in a federal lawsuit against the town that they have been denied overtime pay for nearly a decade.

The suit filed Saturday by Chesterton Firefighters Local 4600 also claims that despite assurances from the town that "nothing would change," a policy change was enacted just days after the current labor contract was signed that limits firefighters ability to use four 24-hour periods of earned time off each year, according to the union's attorney, Angela Jones.

"It is important to note that even with the four additional days, Chesterton Firefighters receive less time off than neighboring departments," Jones said.

Attorney Charles Parkinson, who represents the town in the labor dispute, was not available Monday for comment.

"The decision to file suit against the Town was a very difficult one and the Union and Firefighters made every single effort to avoid litigation," Jones said in a prepared statement. "Unfortunately, the Town’s representatives have responded in an aggressive and intimidating manner, displaying nothing short of 'bullying.'

The allegations involving overtime pay claim that the firefighters have not been paid at a rate of time-and-a-half after working more than 204 hours in 27 days as is required by law, Jones said. Firefighters and police do not receive overtime pay after 40 hours of work like other jobs because of the large cost that would be faced by the units of government.

"Defendant (Chesterton) has, for more than nine (9) years, willingly, deliberately and intentionally refused to pay Chesterton Firefighters for time and one-half pay for overtime worked," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for an undesignated number of years.

"Although what’s been taken from the Chesterton Firefighters may not seem like much to some, to these men and women who see death and risk their lives almost every shift, who miss birthdays and Christmas, and simply mornings and nights with their kids, time off is invaluable, it’s priceless," Jones said.

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©2019 The Times (Munster, Ind.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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