Appeal from the Circuit court of Cook County. Honorable Albert Green, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Greiman
JUSTICE GREIMAN delivered the opinion of the court:
Plaintiffs Thomas Klekamp, Ted Klekamp, Steve Merva and Nick Cinquepalmi, filed this declaratory judgment action seeking additional compensation from The City of Burbank (Burbank) for their employment as firefighter/paramedics rather than firefighters. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of Burbank and plaintiffs appeal.
The issue on appeal is whether or not plaintiffs were entitled, as a matter of law, to compensation at the salary level of firefighter/paramedicsfor the work they performed during their first two years of employment by defendant.
We affirm and file our decision as a published opinion in accordance with Supreme Court Rule 23(a) (Official Reports Advance Sheet No. 15 (July 20, 1994), R. 23, effective July 1, 1994) because there appears to be a conflict among appellate districts of issues addressed herein.
The parties stipulated to the facts. During early 1985, all four plaintiffs participated in the testing process for the position of firemen on defendant's fire department. Prior to testing for the full-time fire department positions, all four plaintiffs worked as paid on-call firefighters for defendant's fire department.
On November 18, 1985, defendant hired three of the plaintiffs (Thomas Klekamp, Ted Klekamp and Steve Merva) as full-time firemen and compensated them accordingly. However, when hired, these three plaintiffs were licensed paramedics. In November 1987, after a two-year probationary period ended, these three plaintiffs were paid as firefighter/paramedics.
On February 18, 1986, defendant hired plaintiff Nick Cinquepalmi as a full-time fireman and compensated him at the salary of a firefighter. Subsequently, in December 1986, plaintiff Cinquepalmi became a licensed paramedic. At the end of his probationary period, he received the salary of a firefighter/paramedic.
From the date plaintiffs began service with defendant's fire department, they functioned as firemen and paramedics, including being assigned on a regular basis to the fire department's ambulance. The fire department required that two paramedics always be on duty. At times, plaintiffs were the only paramedics on duty for certain shifts.
Prior to being hired by defendant, none of the plaintiffs were advised by defendant that they would be paid as a firefighter/paramedic. Each plaintiff was sworn in as a firefighter. Upon their inquiry after being hired, plaintiffs were advised by the deputy chief of the Burbank Fire Department, and later by the chief, that although they would be performing the functions of a firefighter and paramedic, they would only be paid as a firefighter for the first two years of employment. They continued their employment.
When plaintiffs were hired in 1985 and 1986, defendant had separate salary schedules in effect for firefighter/paramedics and firefighters. Defendant's policy also provided that all newly hired firefighters, regardless of paramedic certification, would be paid as a firefighter for a two-year probationary period and employees with paramedic certificates would be elevated to the pay status of firefighter/paramedic beginning with their third year of service.
For fiscal years 1985, 1986 and 1987, defendant appropriated funds to pay plaintiffs in accordance with the salary schedule for firefighters. For fiscal year 1988, defendant appropriated sufficient funds to pay fire department employees with more than one year of service and paramedic certification in accordance with the salary schedule of firefighter/paramedic. In February 1988, Burbank reworded its newspaper advertisements for the hiring of paramedics to acknowledge that paramedics would start at a higher salary than firefighters.
In July 1988 plaintiffs made a written request to the fire chief for the salary difference owed to them based on their service as paramedics. In December 1988 plaintiffs filed a complaint seeking a declaration by the court that they were entitled to ...