On March 14, 2013 a Federal Judge in the Western District of Pennsylvania approved an FLSA settlement between the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Fire Department’s high-ranking fire officials. The lawsuit began in August 2012 when a Captain, a Battalion Chief, and a Deputy Chief filed a lawsuit against the city for failure to pay overtime. The Court certified a collective action and ultimately more than 70 high-ranking firefighters opted into the lawsuit.
The City treated the high-ranking firefighters as exempt under the FLSA’s executive employee exemption. The Plaintiffs, however, claimed that they did not meet the standards for an exemption because they were directly involved in fire suppression activities.
The settlement requires the City to pay back-overtime, reclassify the positions as non-exempt and pay the Plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees.
This case underscores the fact that FLSA overtime exemptions can be complicated and difficult to apply. An employee’s job duties are much more important than his or her job title.