EAST GREENWICH, RI — Firefighters are suing the town in federal court alleging that East Greenwich is shorting them on overtime by violating the Fair Labor Standards Act.
The suit was filed Friday in U.S. District Court against the town and Finance Director Linda Dykeman. It asks the court to award back pay and legal fees and to declare that the town “willfully and intentionally violated” its obligations to firefighters. It seeks records on time worked and payment due since March 23, 2015.
The suit, brought by Elizabeth Wiens of the Gursky/Wiens law firm in North Kingstown, for William Perry and “all similarly situated current and retired” firefighters for East Greenwich, seeks a jury trial.
In a news release Monday afternoon, Perry, who is president of the East Greenwich Fire Fighters’ Association, Local 3328, IAFF, AFL-CIO, said he and others “have been trying to get answers” from Dykeman since December “regarding what we believe are errors in how the Town is calculating our FLSA overtime pay. We have been stonewalled.”
Dykeman’s only response, he said later by phone, were emails saying she was reviewing the matter. He said that when he told her firefighters would sue to get answers about how the town was calculating FLSA overtime, “the Town went from paying us what we believe is the wrong amount, to not paying us FLSA overtime at all.”
David D’Agostino, of Gorham & Gorham in Scituate, who represents the town, said early Monday evening that he has not yet been served with the lawsuit. He said that the town in January had asked the U.S. Department of Labor for guidance on complying with FLSA regulations.
“We need to wait to hear back,” he said.
Perry said Dykeman “never stated any contact with the U.S. Department of Labor.”
Town Manager Gayle Corrigan did not answer questions but sent a 17-page report on the town’s 2013 merger with the Fire District. The report concludes that the current 500 hours of firefighter overtime a week can be addressed by reorganizing the department from the current four-platoon, 42-hour workweek to a three-platoon, 56-hour workweek.