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Native firefighter case will set statewide precedent

The continued dispute between the Metropolis of Morgantown and native firefighters over vacation pay has made its method to the West Virginia Supreme Court docket of Appeals. Regardless of the courtroom decides will influence paid firefighters throughout the Mountain State.

As Erin Cleavenger reported, Worldwide Affiliation of Firefighters Native 313 contends Morgantown didn’t absolutely compensate firefighters for shifts labored on holidays. In a earlier ruling, Monongalia County Circuit Court docket Decide Phillip D. Gaujot stated firefighters have been entitled to time without work or extra pay solely throughout the authorized vacation itself, however the state Wage Fee and Assortment Act doesn’t apply to this case, so the Metropolis of Morgantown didn’t fail to pay “wages” or “fringe advantages” to the firefighters. (Morgantown firefighters work 24-hour shifts starting at 8 a.m., so they didn’t obtain vacation pay for hours labored outdoors the official vacation.)

Lawyer Teresa Toriseva is representing Morgantown’s firefighters. She believes the clear language of the WPCA mandates that firefighters get vacation pay whether or not they work the vacation or not. She argued earlier than the state supreme courtroom that firefighters’ 24-hour shift is usually thought-about one calendar day when calculating payroll, sick days, trip days, and so forth., no matter when the shift begins, so vacation pay must be calculated that approach as properly.

The West Virginia Supreme Court docket is tasked with deciding whether or not vacation pay below the firefighter vacation pay statute is a “wage” below the Wage Fee Assortment Act and whether or not a firefighter will probably be paid for his or her whole shift or simply the portion.

We don’t know what the excessive courtroom will determine. What we do know is that regardless of the state supreme courtroom decides, it gained’t simply have an effect on Morgantown — it should set a precedent that impacts paid fireplace departments all through West Virginia.

A number of cities have confronted related instances in the previous few years, together with Huntington and Parkersburg. In these instances — not like the Morgantown’s  — judges dominated in favor of the firefighters.  

Within the Huntington case, in accordance with the West Virginia Report, “firefighters who don’t have any responsibility hours on the related holidays will probably be offered an extra 12 hours of paid time without work over and above what they now obtain below the present Collective Bargaining Settlement. A firefighter who ends his shift at 7 a.m. on the vacation will obtain an extra 5 hours of paid time without work over and above what they now obtain below the present CBA. Those that begin their shift at 7 a.m. on a vacation will probably be paid in accordance with the CBA.”

Within the Parkersburg case, as additionally reported by the West Virginia Report, the decide dominated “the town shall pay the firefighters based mostly on their 24-hour shift, which means 36 hours of pay or 24 hours equal time without work for every authorized vacation. … [F]irefighters who labored additional time throughout earlier holidays are owed wages for 2 occasions their common charge of pay.”

The Metropolis of Huntington has already agreed to a backpay settlement, however each it and Parkersburg will look to the West Virginia Supreme Court docket’s determination within the Morgantown case for any funds and insurance policies shifting ahead. This makes Morgantown’s case the one to observe. It’ll both reaffirm what different cities have been advised to do, or it should reverse these decrease courtroom rulings.