Press Release -
April 9, 2012
For more information, contact Josh Wright at 324-3600
On February 29, 2012, Hon. Judge Karon O. Bowdre of the United States District Court, Northern District of Alabama, issued an Order certifying a class of 692 Birmingham firefighters as follows:
All current and former employees in fire protection activities, including a firefighter, paramedic, emergency medical technician, rescue worker, ambulance personnel, or hazardous materials worker, who - (1) is trained in fire suppression, has the legal authority and responsibility to engage in fire suppression; and/or (2) is engaged in the prevention, control, and extinguishment of fires or response to emergency situations where life, property, or the environment is at risk. This class includes any such person employed by The City at any time from January 1, 2009 to the present and who has been eligible for any firefighter pension plan with The City during that time.
Firm lawyers Josh Wright, Steve Couch and Josh Firth proudly represent the entire class of firefighters. As of April 5, 2012, notice went out to the class via US Mail -- giving them each an opportunity to formally opt-in to the class. The deadline to opt-in is June 5, 2012.
The description of the case includes the following statements from the parties:
On August 19, 2010, Plaintiff Michael Carroll brought this action against the City of Birmingham (captioned Michael Carroll v. The City of Birmingham, et al., Civil Action No. 2:10-CV-2244-KOB, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division). This case is currently pending, and the court has made no decision concerning the merits of the Plaintiff's claim or the City of Birmingham's defenses.
Plaintiff alleges that he and other similarly situated employees in fire protection activities were denied proper overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Plaintiff alleges that the City of Birmingham failed to exercise its rights under 29 U.S.C. § 207(k) in that the City of Birmingham did not pay overtime compensation at a rate of time and one-half for all hours worked over forty (40) hours within a prescribed period, pursuant to the requirements of 29 U.S.C. § 207(a). Plaintiff further alleges that the City of Birmingham acted in such a way so as to lose the overtime benefit which exempts some municipal employees from overtime benefits for hours accrued in excess of forty (40) hours within a prescribed period. As alleged in the Complaint, Plaintiff contends that The City unilaterally redefined its overtime policy in early 2009 to include hours worked in excess of forty (40) hours per week. Plaintiff contends that the pay stubs provided to firefighters clearly show this policy change, and are indicative of an overtime compensation policy wherein all hours worked in excess of forty (40) per week are "overtime." Plaintiff further alleges that this change in early 2009 evidences The City's intent to redefine the overtime threshold, as well as its failure to pay compensation according to the law. Plaintiff seeks payment of all unpaid overtime compensation since January 1, 2009, an equal amount of liquidated damages, and/or pre-judgment interest, and a reasonable attorney's fee, including the costs and expenses of this action from early 2009 until the present.
The City of Birmingham denies the allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint and is currently opposing the pending action. The City of Birmingham contends that during the time frame relevant to this suit, it kept its prior practice of paying overtime wages as allowed by 29 U.S.C. § 207(k) of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The City contends that it did not redefine its overtime policies to pay overtime wages for hours over forty (40) per week, as alleged. The City contends that the pay stub notations which Plaintiff claims show a forty (40) hour per week overtime calculation actually reflect pension withholdings, which are irrelevant to overtime pay. Further, the stubs do not show any overtime threshold of forty (40) hours per week as alleged, because the pension calculation was based upon eighty (80) hours per two weeks.
The Court suspended the running of the statute of limitations (i.e., the legal time limit to file a suit before it is barred) for those persons who choose to opt-in to the suit. This means that the statute of limitations for all persons who opt-in will not continue to run; but rather, will be paused as of June 27, 2011 to the present day they opt-in. "That retroactive tolling allows firefighters to capture more overtime they may be entitled to," said Josh Wright, lead counsel. "For those that opt-in, the right to sue has been preserved since June 27, 2011. If firefighters do NOT opt-in to the lawsuit, however, the suspension of the statute of limitations back to June 27, 2011 does not apply to their case and the statute of limitations continues to run until and unless they file their own lawsuit. As time runs, each firefighter would be entitled to less overtime."
In order to capture overtime that may be owed pursuant to the lawsuit, including potential liquidated damages, a firefighter simply needs to file a consent form. To learn more, or to get a copy of the Class Notice or Consent Form, contact Josh Wright at 205-324-3600.