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Forth Worth firefighters sue city to reverse overtime wage rules

Paying the laborer his or her due is a baseline tenet of good business. Most employers live up to that rule as a matter of personal integrity. Others live up to it because it's required by law. There are some, and Texas has its share, who look to skirt the obligation. Holding them accountable sometimes requires the help of experienced wage and hour attorneys.

Firefighters in Fort Worth have enlisted the help of legal counsel in a bid to get the city to change overtime limitation rules instituted back in 2009. While a lot of workers in disputes over overtime pay lack the added benefit of union representation that is not the case here. The Fort Worth Professional Firefighters Association is leading the charge on behalf of its members.

The firefighters' claim is that the 2009 policy was enacted outside the collective bargaining agreement and they say the change mostly affected 21 firefighters who worked in the communications center handling 911 calls and dispatching crews.

According to the suit, the change in policy began in January 2009, without notification and well before an eventual contract was finalized in April 2010. As a result, for about 15 months, the 21 firefighters lost out on overtime pay as called for by the previous contract. The suit alleges that the city failed to bargain in good faith.

While an arbitrator rejected a formal grievance filed on behalf of the firefighters, he also indicated that the unilateral change during negotiations ran counter to the right of firefighters to bargain collectively and the duty of the employer to bargain in good faith. It's seems to be on that basis that the firefighters are suing.

Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "Firefighters Sue Fort Worth in Overtime Dispute," Bill Hanna, March 31, 2012

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