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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Haro v. City of Los Angeles: Ninth Circuit Affirms Overtime Award to Fire Department Employees

In Haro v. City of Los Angeles, ___ F.3d ___ (9th Cir. 3/18/14), the plaintiffs worked as dispatchers or aeromedical technicians for the City of Los Angeles Fire Department. They alleged that the City improperly classified them as employees "engaged in fire protection" and improperly failed to pay them weekly overtime compensation under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). 

The district court granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs, finding that they were not engaged in fire protection work. The City appealed, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed, finding as follows: 

Dispatchers do not have the "responsibility to engage in fire suppression" and do not qualify for the FLSA overtime exemption for employees "engaged in fire protection." Slip op. at 17-18. Aeromedical technicians also do not "engage in fire suppression" and also do not qualify for the FLSA overtime exemption. Slip op. at 19. 

The FLSA's three year statute of limitations applied because the City's violation of the FLSA was "willful," meaning that the City "either knew or showed reckless disregard for the matter of whether its conduct was prohibited by the statute." Slip op. at 19-21. 

The plaintiffs were entitled to liquidated damages in the amount of the unpaid overtime compensation (i.e. double damages). Slip op. at 21-22. 

The City was entitled to credit overtime payments already made to employees against overtime payments owed to them under the FLSA. However, such offsets must be calculated and could be applied only on a workweek-by-workweek basis. Slip op. at 22-25. 

Haro v. City of Los Angeles is available here

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