The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that requires employers to pay minimum wage and overtime compensation (under specific circumstances) to their employees. Since the FLSA became applicable to state and local government employers in 1986 following a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, many public employers have attempted to avoid paying overtime compensation to fire fighters, rescue service personnel, and emergency medical service (EMS) personnel as the law requires.
If an employer's overtime pay practices violate the FLSA, employees may file a lawsuit against the employer and obtain back pay (which may be doubled to include what is known as "liquidated damages"), reimbursement for attorneys' fees and litigation expenses.
IAFF Policy Regarding Assistance for FLSA Actions
The IAFF currently maintains a policy designed to make legal representation available to IAFF affiliates in pursuing meritorious claims under the FLSA. This policy provides as follows: The request for IAFF involvement must originate with the IAFF District Vice President with approval for IAFF participation determined by the General President. The IAFF will provide financial assistance for General Counsel legal fees in an amount not to exceed $10,000. Fees for expenses of IAFF General Counsel beyond the $10,000 limit (and any local attorney) are the responsibility of the local. Any stipulated or negotiated conclusion to the case must provide for reimbursement to the IAFF for the cost of its legal fees. Legal fees advanced by the IAFF and recovered subsequently are to be credited to the proper IAFF Budget Line so that the program is self sustaining.
Notice to IAFF Affiliates
In resolutions passed at the 1990 and 1992 IAFF Conventions, affiliates are required to notify the IAFF if they are considering filing a FLSA overtime suit, as well as their potential or actual involvement in any other court action.