Make us your home page

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 To write a letter to the editor, go to

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

  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  4. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  5. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter


    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle