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City accused of a failure to pay overtime at the appropriate rate

The most common wage theft complaints in Texas and across the United States are generally relating to unpaid overtime. However, it is not only the failure to pay overtime that can be an issue. Problems can also arise when the overtime is paid, but it is not paid at the proper rate.

A group of six firefighters from another state filed a class action lawsuit in a federal court against the their city department in 2013. They alleged that they were not paid the proper rate when they worked overtime. The case later included over 200 more similarly situated firefighters who had joined the lawsuit.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs were not paid time-and-one-half when they worked overtime while they were in recruit school or attending the corresponding required training. In addition, the formula the city allegedly used to calculate their pay would sometimes drop their overtime rate below the minimum wage. The plaintiffs claim that the fluctuating workweek system that was used was a combination of overtime, incentive and base pay for calculating pay.

A federal judge ruled that the department did violate the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the plaintiffs could claim wages back to 2011. The city will not be required to pay any further penalties because the violations were determined to be  unintentional. A failure to pay overtime at the correct rate is still a violation of the law, and employees in Texas who believe that they are being paid incorrectly may benefit from seeking legal advice from a qualified professional who can assist them in pursuing the appropriate claims.

Source: postandcourier.com, "Charleston Fire Department owes overtime under lawsuit, judge rules", Dave Munday, Nov. 5, 2015

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