A labor dispute between the city of San Luis Obispo and a group of its fire department employees isn't the only one of its kind. The case is just one of dozens in California currently filed in federal court.
The lawsuit was filed by 22 members of the SLO Fire Department in late November, and alleges that the city knowingly underpaid fire department employees because it failed to include cash payments they received in lieu of benefits in their overtime pay calculations. The lawsuit comes on the heels of a ruling on the issue of in lieu cash payments and overtime issued by California's 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in June.
The suit was filed at the tail end of a slew of similar lawsuits in the wake of that decision. According to data obtained by New Times, there are an additional 34 lawsuits filed with federal courts in California since the June decision.
In a Dec. 14 email, City Attorney Christine Dietrick characterized the suits as "complex and opportunistic." She said the city agreed to conduct an audit and review any changes to the city's obligation as a result of the appellate court's ruling.
"We've reviewed the claims asserted against the city and are familiar with the background but disagree with the characterization of the history of this issue reflected in the complaint," she wrote.
The case is ongoing and the city, which has yet to be served with the complaint, has not filed a response to the lawsuit in court.