OCEAN CITY — A 24-year veteran of the city’s beach patrol has filed a class action lawsuit claiming the municipality doesn’t pay lifeguards overtime.
The amount in question for each lifeguard is less than $75,000, the complaint says.
Lawyers for Douglas Schmitt, an Ocean City lifeguard, filed the complaint in Superior Court last month. It alleges that the city has committed “systematic wage violations” by not paying lifeguards time-and-a-half when they work more than 40 hours a week.
Not paying hourly lifeguards the overtime premium violates the New Jersey Hour and Wage Law, the complaint claims.
The complaint defines the ‘class,’ or people who could join in on the lawsuit, as any hourly-paid lifeguard who worked for the city from April 25, 2015 to the present. It’s a group of more than 100 people, according to the lawsuit.
Andrew Frisch, one of Schmitt’s attorneys, told The Gazette June 1 that “three to five” other lifeguards have expressed interest in participating in the case.
He also said he believes that the overtime issue affects the beach patrols of other shore towns.
“It probably occurs not just with the lifeguards in the city of Ocean City,” Frisch said.
The lawsuit is also seeking to answer a number of questions, including whether the city incorrectly considers lifeguards exempt from the overtime premium and whether the city has kept accurate time records for members of the beach patrol, according to the complaint.
“It appears that this is a case of misapplication of the law,” Fritsch said.
It’s not the first time the city’s beach patrol has been the subject of a lawsuit.
In 2013, the city agreed to pay a former lifeguard $75,000 to settle a lawsuit related to age discrimination. Two years prior to that settlement, the municipality paid $50,000 to a former beach patrol member who also claimed age discrimination.
City solicitor Dorothy F. McCrosson did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit.