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Holt v. City of Battle Creek

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

June 3, 2019

Howard Holt; Martin Erskine, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
City of Battle Creek, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued: May 3, 2019

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan at Grand Rapids. No. 1:15-cv-00931-Janet T. Neff, District Judge.

         ARGUED:

          Robert Anthony Alvarez, Agustin Henriquez, Jr., AVANTI LAW GROUP, PLLC, Wyoming, Michigan, for Appellants.

          Gregory N. Longworth, CLARK HILL PLC, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF:

          Robert Anthony Alvarez, AVANTI LAW GROUP, PLLC, Wyoming, Michigan, for Appellants.

          Gregory N. Longworth, CLARK HILL PLC, Grand Rapids, Michigan, for Appellee.

          Before: GUY, CLAY, and GRIFFIN, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          CLAY, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Plaintiffs Howard Holt and Martin Erskine appeal from the judgment entered in favor of Defendant City of Battle Creek on Plaintiffs' claim that Defendant violated the Fair Labor Standards Act ("FLSA"), 29 U.S.C. § 201, et seq., by failing to pay Plaintiffs overtime wages. For the reasons set forth below, we AFFIRM the decision of the district court.

         BACKGROUND

         Factual History

         Plaintiffs Holt and Erskine each served as a battalion chief in Defendant's fire department. Holt was the "suppression" battalion chief from 2007 until his retirement in 2015; Erskine became the "administrative" battalion chief in 2012 and has not retired. Battalion chiefs are second in command in the fire department hierarchy, behind the fire chief but ahead of other employees. Plaintiffs served under three different fire chiefs: Chief Larry Hausman from 1997 through April 2013, Chief Jackie Hampton from April 2013 through January 2014, and Chief Arthur David Schmaltz from February 2014 through the rest of the time period at issue.

         I. Battalion Chief Job Responsibilities

         The City of Battle Creek's job description for battalion chiefs included the following summary of the position's responsibilities:

Provides supervision to fire fighting personnel; Implements the incident command system and serves as incident commander at all incidents; Accepts responsibility for assigned administrative and fire prevention functions; Functions as the chief administrative officer of the department in absence of the Fire Chief and Deputy Fire Chief; Actively supports the ...

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