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Posted April 27, 2012 | comments 9 Comments

Frederick County firefighters seek back pay

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

WINCHESTER -- Paid firefighters and fire marshals claim Frederick County owes them overtime pay dating to 2009.

The Washington, D.C.-based law firm, Woodley & McGillivary, sent a notice of claim dated March 27 to the Frederick County Board of Supervisors regarding overtime pay for firefighters and fire marshals. David Ricksecker, an attorney with the firm, signed the letter.

Claimants, identified in the letter as firefighters and fire marshals employed by the county, gave the county notice "for its failure to properly compensate them under Virginia law."

An attorney with Woodley & McGillivary working with the firefighters on the issue was not available to comment Friday.

The county provided a copy of the letter to the Daily on Friday, excluding the identification of any specific claimants. Deputy County Administrator Jay Tibbs stated in an email that, per County Attorney Roderick Williams, pages which contain claimant identification are being withheld as a personnel record under Virginia code because the government has not yet taken any final, public action on the matter.

The violations, according to the letter, arise from the county's violation of Virginia code which require the local government to pay fire protection and law enforcement employees at a rate of not less that 11/2 times their regular rate of pay for hours worked above their regularly scheduled hours up to the applicable Fair Labor Standards Act threshold.

The letter states that as a result of the alleged violation, the county owes firefighters identified as claimants additional half-time pay for all hours worked between 200 and 212 in each 28-day period. The letter adds that the county owes fire marshals identified in the claim additional half-time pay for hours worked between 160 and 171 in each 28-day period from March 27, 2009, until Jan. 1, 2012.

Firefighters and fire marshals also are owed double their respective amounts of unpaid overtime and attorneys' fees and costs associated with the claim, according to the letter.

The letter does not indicate a dollar amount of compensation sought by the firefighters or fire marshals.

Supervisors considered the matter at its March 14 meeting, according to Ricksecker. The claimants requested that the board provide a decision allowing or disallowing the stated claims within 10 days of the notice or no later than April 6, Ricksecker said.

According to county officials the supervisors have not yet taken action on the matter of the claim.

The Fire and Rescue Department employs approximately 75 paid firefighters and fire marshals, according to Tibbs.

The county faces a lawsuit based on similar alleged claims that it failed to pay more than 50 current and former sheriff's deputies from 2005 to January 2012. The lawsuit, filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg, accuses the county of violating Virginia's compensation regulations for "gap pay" owed to law enforcement employees.

Virginia legislators in 2001 changed the state regulations pertaining to overtime pay for firefighters and fire marshals. Legislators included law enforcement under the regulations in 2005.

9 Comments | Leave a comment

    Isn't this story something! First it was the Sheriff's office screwing employee's out of earned pay and now our loyal firefighters are being cheated as well?
    Here's a perfect example of how the GOP will run things for all of us if they are given even more power over the working class citizens.
    Maybe these law suites would have never touched our "taxpayer" pockets if maybe a union was involved from the gitgo huh?

    I feel my taxes rising already. I hope these stories don't ring true, but if they are, I hope they get every penny they're owed, despite my tax increase. I only wish they had caught it sooner.

    I think they should look at all the local counties/towns honestly. These men and women work longer hours at much more demanding jobs than most of the rest of us. Let's give them what they have earned already. It's not like they even make that high of a salary to begin with.

    This is not a political issue caused by one party. To even suggest it is foolish. The person central to both lawsuits is not even an elected official. So how about using facts instead of bland opinions. What is very evident is the worthlessness of a union.

    I'm with you about the GOP Motor Man. And as for the usefulness of unions, they gave us the weekend, the forty hour work week, overtime pay, child labor laws, worker's compensation laws, and the minimum wage, just as a few examples. Perhaps some find those worthless, but I and many others find them invalueable.

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