Federal investigation recovers $672K for 172 firefighters, paramedics after Department of Labor finds City of Gary misapplied overtime rules
GARY, IN – Like all first responders, firefighters employed by the City of Gary must be ready to respond when and wherever needed. In general, they work a 106-hour schedule at fire stations every two weeks in shifts sometimes lasting 24 hours or longer. When duty forces them to exceed their typical schedules, federal law requires their employer to pay overtime wages at time-and-one-half their hourly rates.
A recent investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division that found the city failed to compensate as many as 172 firefighters and paramedics fully has recovered a total of $672,502 in back overtime wages for these employees.
“When duty calls, first responders are expected to put the lives of others before theirs. Our investigation found the City of Gary failed to compensate these firefighters and paramedics as the law requires,” explained Acting Wage and Hour Division District Director Fernando Hernandez in Indianapolis. “Like all employers, states and local governments must understand the rules that apply to their employees and pay them properly.”
Division investigators reviewed payroll records from March 8, 2020 to March 7, 2022, and learned firefighters often worked up to 120 hours every two weeks but did not receive additional compensation for hours worked over 106. Investigators determined the city owed 154 firefighters a total of $319,237 in overtime wages.
The investigation also found the city owed 18 paramedics a total of $353,265 in overtime back wages. The division found the city believed incorrectly that paramedics, like firefighters, could work up to 106 hours per two-week period before overtime compensation was owed. In fact, since the paramedics did not perform fire suppression work, they were due overtime for hours over 40 in a workweek.
Learn more about the Wage and Hour Division. including a search tool to use if you think you may be owed back wages collected by the division. Download the agency’s new Timesheet App for Android and Apple devices, free and also available in Spanish, to ensure hours and pay are accurate.