City of Eaton settles with Fire and EMS employees


EATON — Eaton City Council passed a resolution authorizing City Manager Brad Collins to execute a settlement agreement relating to overtime pay for City of Eaton Fire and EMS employees during their Monday, May 17 meeting. Councilmember Gary Wagner was not present.

According to court documents filed in the United States District Court Southern District of Ohio, Western Division, plaintiffs in the case alleged the City of Eaton violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by not providing time and one-half overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 212 hours in a 28-day work period or in excess of 40 hours per workweek.

The plaintiffs, which include current and former Eaton Fire and EMS employees, claimed they performed pre-shift and post-shift activities for which they did not receive overtime compensation. The plaintiffs were represented by James L. Quinn.

These responsibilities included conducting equipment checks and loading personal-protective equipment before their shifts as well as exchanging information regarding station maintenance, apparatus issues, and the events of the previous shift. The City of Eaton did not deny that employees perform these actives, but did deny that employees are required or encouraged to do so.

Court documents state that under the FLSA, “employers are required to pay a minimum wage as well as overtime compensation for hours worked in excess of forty hours in a workweek,” however, exemptions do exist for those employed in, “a bonafide executive, administrative, or professional capacity.”

The City of Eaton claims, based on past job postings, that “60 [percent] of the essential duties and responsibilities include supervising, managing, implementing, and motivating fire personnel,” which would fall under the previously mentioned exemption for overtime.

The plaintiffs, however, argued that their primary responsibility is emergency response, which would fall under the FLSA’s “first responder regulation,” under which executive and administrative exemptions do not apply to firefighters.

Due to the lack of clarity surrounding the plaintiffs’ primary duties, District Judge Michael J. Newman ruled a summary judgement for either party would be inappropriate.

According to city documents, the mediation settlement terms read that plaintiffs, “agree to reaffirm and sign their job description and agree to perform the duties and terms of that description,” and the job descriptions will be changed to reflect non-exemption status for captains and lieutenants.

The settlement also agrees to payment in the total amount of $185,000 – $100,000 to be paid by May 31, 2021, and $85,000 to be paid by March 1, 2022.

In other business

Collins reported the city’s municipal paving project should be completed as of this week. Streets included Eaton Avenue, Fudge Avenue, Miller Avenue, Romadoor Avenue, Leatherman Drive, Rehmart Drive and Hook Park, as well as some alleyways.

Council passed Ordinance 21-09 to amend annual appropriations for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2021.

The Fire and EMS Report for March 2021 showed a combined response of 216 calls for service: 143 EMS responses, including four second Medic responses; and 73 fire/rescue responses, including three general alarms. In April 2021, the report showed 180 calls for services: 26 EMS responses, including five second Medic responses; and 54 fire/rescue responses, including four general alarms.

There were three heroin overdose responses in March and zero in April.

The next Eaton City Council meeting will be held Monday, June 21 at 6 p.m. in the City Building.

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By Braden Moles

bmoles@aimmediamidwest.com

 

 

Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles