Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater firefighters sue city, claiming officials withheld overtime payments

CLEARWATER — Nearly 160 current and former Clearwater firefighters have sued the city in federal court, claiming officials withheld overtime payments for years.

Comprising most of the Clearwater Fire & Rescue workforce, the group of 159 filed suit this week seeking unspecified back pay, damages and interest.

City officials said they would not comment on the litigation.

At issue is firefighters' holiday pay and overtime, said Doug Steele, an attorney for Woodley & McGillivary, the Washington, D.C., firm representing the firefighters.

Firefighters who did not work a holiday received the holiday stipend, but firefighters who did work a holiday saw that holiday pay deducted from their earned overtime, the suit says.

That policy, which Steele said the city used "for the reasonably known past," deprived firefighters of due pay and was done in a "knowing, willful and bad faith manner," the suit says.

Attorneys, Steele said, could not estimate how much overtime was withheld without city employment and payroll records, which the suit wants the city to preserve.

Led by John Klinefelter, president of the union for rank-and-file firefighters, the suit represents a large part of the department's nearly 200 sworn and civilian employees. Five retired firefighters are also named as plaintiffs.

The suit marks the latest tension between the city and its firefighters.

Last year, the union, International Association of Firefighters Local 1158, finalized its newest contract with the city after three years of bitter bargaining, conceding to changes in raises and pensions but keeping workweek limits and special overtime.

Overtime accounted for $650,000 of the fire department's $22 million budget last year, or about 3 percent, budget records show.

In 2010, a city audit found that a dozen assistant and division fire chiefs had earned a total of nearly $75,000 in overtime to which they were not entitled.

Contact Drew Harwell at (727) 445-4170 or dharwell@tampabay.com. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.

Clearwater firefighters sue city, claiming officials withheld overtime payments 06/27/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 27, 2012 5:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  2. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  3. Lightning picks defenseman Cal Foote

    Blogs

    Cal Foote is the son of former Avs defenseman Adam Foote.
  4. Kids today: They don't work summer jobs the way they used to

    Business

    WASHINGTON — It was at Oregon's Timberline Lodge, later known as a setting in the horror movie The Shining, where Patrick Doyle earned his first real paycheck.

    Teens Ben Testa, from left, Hannah Waring and Abby McDonough, and Wegmeyer Farms owner Tyler Wegmeyer walk the strawberry rows at the Hamilton, Va., farm in late May.
  5. Jeb Bush back in the hunt for the Marlins, now opposing Derek Jeter

    Blogs

    Associated Press:

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has switched sides in pursuit of the Miami Marlins, and he’s trying to beat out former teammate Derek Jeter.