Oral arguments within the dispute between members of Worldwide Affiliation of Firefighters Native 313 (IAFF), which is the Morgantown firefighters’ union, and the Metropolis of Morgantown had been heard earlier than the West Virginia Supreme Courtroom Wednesday after the firefighters appealed a earlier ruling by Monongalia County Circuit Courtroom Choose Phillip D. Gaujot granting judgment for the town.
The lawsuit claims the town didn’t totally compensate firefighters for shifts labored on holidays. Gaujot’s ruling mentioned firefighters had been entitled to day off or extra pay solely in the course of the authorized vacation itself, however the state Wage Cost and Assortment Act (WPCA) doesn’t apply to this case, so the Metropolis of Morgantown didn’t fail to pay “wages” or “fringe advantages” to the firefighters.
Firefighters in Morgantown work 24-hour shifts starting at 8 a.m. so they didn’t obtain vacation pay for hours labored exterior the official vacation.
Representing the IAFF 313 is Lawyer Teresa Toriseva, who believes that the clear language of the statute mandates that firefighters get vacation pay whether or not they work the vacation or not. On Wednesday, she argued that vacation pay “have to be calculated on the complete 24-hour shift.”
The courtroom is tasked with deciding whether or not vacation pay beneath the firefighter vacation pay statute is a “wage” beneath the Wage Cost Assortment Act and whether or not a firefighter might be paid for his or her total shift or simply the portion.
“That is an enhanced profit that they get for working these lengthy hours and for at all times being able to rescue West Virginians from burning buildings,” she mentioned.
Toriseva argued that firefighters’ 24-hour shift is usually thought-about one calendar day when calculating payroll, sick days, trip days, and so on. no matter when the shift begins, so vacation pay must be calculated that manner as effectively.
In accordance with Toriseva, Morgantown’s method as allowed by the now retired Gaujot’s order, is an outlier and different cities within the state compensate firefighters on a vacation the best way she says the legislation requires–primarily based on the 24 hour shift.
“Charleston, Wheeling, Huntington, Martinsburg, Dunbar, Bluefield, Beckley, Weirton and Clarksburg, simply to call a number of, calculate skilled firefighter vacation pay primarily based on the 24 shift—Morgantown doesn’t,” Toriseva mentioned. “The Supreme Courtroom could have the ultimate say now.”
Practically 100 firefighters from throughout the state got here to listen to the argument because the courtroom’s resolution might influence firefighters statewide.
“We had firefighters from the northern and japanese panhandles touring a number of hours to attend the argument. The Courtroom’s ruling is essential to them, and all different first responders, as it’ll instantly influence their pay now and long run into the longer term,” Toriseva mentioned.
Metropolis lawyer Ryan Simonton argued Choose Gaujot was appropriate in his ruling and the firefighters’ claims aren’t topic to the WPCA as a result of the case isn’t about wages, however how a lot paid day off must be given. He mentioned Morgantown pays vacation day off in full when it’s due.
The Dominion Submit reached out to Simonton for extra touch upon the case, however didn’t obtain a reply in time for press.
The Supreme Courtroom will ship a written opinion on the dispute later this 12 months.