Phila. Fire Paramedics Win Right to Receive Overtime Pay


 
 

Emilie Lounsberry | | Thursday, May 29, 2008


PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Fire Department paramedics who went to court to get overtime pay won a significant victory yesterday when a federal appeals court ruled they are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours a week.

The 2-1 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit came in a case involving about 300 fire service paramedics who are assigned to 40 different units at firehouses across the city.

The appellate judges sent the case back to federal district court for a determination of damages.

Outlining the case, Judge Dolores K. Sloviter wrote in the majority opinion that it is well known that an employer generally must pay time-and-a-half for overtime, though certain employees are exempt from that requirement.

The central question in the case, she wrote, was whether Fire Department paramedics have "legal authority and responsibility" for firefighting under the Fair Labor Standards Act - which would mean they were not entitled to overtime.

Lawyers for the city contended that the paramedics did have such authority and responsibility, and thus were not entitled to overtime.

U.S. District Judge Clifford Scott Green agreed with the city and threw out the lawsuit in 2006, and the paramedics appealed to the Third Circuit.

Yesterday, Sloviter and Judge Michael A. Chagares sided with the paramedics.

"It cannot fairly be said that the [fire service paramedics] have a real obligation to fight fires because it is not what they were hired to do, and it is not what they are expected to do as part of their job duties," wrote Sloviter.

As a result, the two judges concluded, the paramedics are not exempt from the overtime-requirement provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Judge Thomas M. Hardiman disagreed, saying that the majority was "unfaithful" to 1999 amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act, and that their approach would expose municipalities to "potentially staggering damage awards" that Congress intended to prevent.

But Sloviter said the city might have a good-faith defense. "It is important to note that if the city can show it acted in good faith, it may not be subject to damages for its past overtime pay practice," she wrote.

Contact staff writer Emilie Lounsberry at 215-854-4828 or elounsberry@phillynews.com.




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Legal and Ethical, Operations and Protcols

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Simulation-Based Assessment Facilitates Learning & Enhances Clinical Judgment

Simulation is an educational tool that can be used to develop and refine clinical skills of the student in a controlled environment before they progress to becoming practicing clinicians.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

REMSA Programs Helps Reduce Hospital Visits

Community paramedic effort goes into service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

City Official Challenges San Francisco Fire Chief

Ambulance response times among problems noted by city supervisor.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Texas Ambulance Crash

Victoria ambulance collides with civilian vehicle.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Colorado Medics Ditch Pants for Kilts

“Real men do wear kilts.”
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

CO Leak at Illinois School

Girard incident sends over 130 to hospitals.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Hands On September 2014

Who gets thumbs up this month?
More >


Multimedia Thumb

NYC Sept. 11 Anniversary

View images from the ceremony at Ground Zero.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >