Reinstated Firefighter Entitled To Partial Payment For Overtime Missed During Period Of Discharge

When the City of Barberton, Ohio terminated a firefighter, the firefighter’s labor organization, Local 329 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, challenged the termination in arbitration. The Arbitrator ordered the reinstatement of the firefighter with “back pay, including lost overtime and acting pay opportunities from February 3, 2004 to the date of his reinstatement.”

Subsequently, the City and Local 329 were unable to agree on how much overtime the firefighter should be paid upon his reinstatement. To solve the matter, the issue was given back to the Arbitrator for resolution.

Under the parties’ contract, the firefighter on shift with the least amount of overtime worked is the first individual to be offered overtime. Once the firefighter works the overtime, the number of overtime hours are added to his previous total. The next time overtime becomes available, the first firefighter to be offered overtime would be the firefighter with the least amount of hours of overtime worked, based on the updated numbers.

Local 329 and the City agreed that there were 658 hours of total overtime over the firefighter’s entire shift over the period of his termination. The City determined that the firefighter who worked the most overtime on the shift had worked 282.125 overtime hours during the period involved. The City then reduced that amount by 22 percent, figuring that the firefighter who worked the most overtime turned down overtime opportunities 22 percent of the time. This brought the City’s overtime offer to 220.0575 hours.

While the Arbitrator generally accepted the City’s methodology, he rejected the 22 percent reduction. The Arbitrator criticized the City for counting in the 22 percent reduction occasions when the firefighter who worked the most overtime was not at home when overtime was available. In the Arbitrator’s judgment, “this would indicate that the 22 percent reduction in overtime hours was excessive.” As such, the Arbitrator ordered the terminated firefighter to be paid for 282.125 hours of overtime.

City of Barberton, 120 LA 1367 (Goggin, 2005).

This article appears in the June 2005 issue