Oct. 19, 2011 Update on your union's work on overtime pay. There is a lawsuit that employees may join to challenge their FLSA status. Because FLSA status cannot be challenged in the grievance process, NFFE National hired a law firm to assist union members who may wish to challenge their FLSA status. This union initiative began in 2010. Subsequently, the agency began reviewing and correcting the employees' FLSA status codes. The union invoked negotiations on the impact and implementation of this review. This letter explains how employees may be affected by the agency review, union negotiations, and lawsuit. Click here for more details.
Do you receive your overtime pay at a rate less than 1-1/2 times your base
Have you been paid for your comp time during the past 3 years?
If you answered, "Yes" to either of these questions, you may be able to recover back pay, liquidated damages, and interest by joining a lawsuit.
What's this all about?
NFFE believes the Forest Service (FS) has been paying overtime at an improperly low rate to employees in many kinds of positions. The reason for this stems from improper FLSA status coding for many employees (especially 460 Foresters and 462 Forestry techs, engineering techs, various resource specialists, and hydrologists). This coding indicates whether employees are "exempt" or "nonexempt" under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employees, who are incorrectly coded as "exempt" are commonly being underpaid.
So, why sue?
The purpose of this lawsuit is to correct any mistakes the FS has made in classifying employees' under the FLSA, which is one of the laws that affect how federal employees are paid when they work beyond 8 hours in a day or 40 hours in a week. The lawsuit will also seek back pay for any errors that the FS has made with respect to overtime pay and the cashing out of comp time. Our Master Agreement does not allow FLSA classification issues to be addressed through the grievance procedure, so that's why we need to do a lawsuit.
What's in it for me?
Employees who join the lawsuit are not responsible for any out of pocket costs. As is typical in a contingency fee case, the law firm (Woodley & McGillivary, a law firm that specializes in representing employees and unions) receives a percentage of the money it wins on an employee's behalf. (The fee for this case is 25%.) The law firm will also deduct costs associated with pursuing the litigation. NFFE has agreed to cover the firm's out of pocket costs further increasing any payout employees will receive. For those who are concerned about tight Agency budgets, the money won in this lawsuit would not come from Forest Service budget but rather a special settlement fund.
There is more information available at the website of the law firm that
NFFE has hired to assist with this. Just click on the link:
How can I get fully paid for the work I do?
There are four simple steps to join the lawsuit:
If you have any questions about your FLSA status, this lawsuit, or joining NFFE, please contact your Union Representative.