NEW YORK, NY– A federal jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, 2,519 EMTs and Paramedics employed by the City of New York, in an action brought pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Following the close of evidence, the jury unanimously found that the City suffered or permitted EMTs and Paramedics to work before and after their shifts without paying them and that the City’s failure to do so was done in reckless disregard of the law. Oren Barzilay, the President of AFSCME Local 2507, Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics & Fire Inspectors, remarked: “After deliberating for less than two hours, the jury returned a verdict telling the City it must pay its first responders for the work they perform before and after their scheduled shifts – all of which is captured in CityTime. The jury did justice.”
Molly Elkin, Sara Faulman, Diana Nobile and Sarah Block of McGillivary Steele Elkin LLP represented plaintiffs in a three-week trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York before the Honorable Judge Vernon S. Broderick. The plaintiffs demonstrated through the testimony of numerous EMTs and Paramedics, and FDNY Supervisors, that they began working at the EMS stations up to 15 minutes prior to the start of their shifts when they, among other things, prepared their medical and protective equipment to ensure that they were ready and able to put their ambulances in service as quickly as possible. The jury further found that the plaintiffs worked after the end of their shift, for up to 15 minutes, exchanging vital medical equipment and information with the next tour of EMTs and Paramedics and safely storing any other personal medical or protective equipment they had used during their shift.
In addition, the jury found that because the EMTs and Paramedics performed these activities while scanned into the City’s electronic timekeeping system, CityTime, the backpay damages could be computed directly from the number of minutes that the City had recorded, but not paid.
Finally, the jury further found that in failing to pay the EMTs and Paramedics for this work, the City of New York willfully violated the law, entitling the EMTs and Paramedics to full recovery under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Following the verdict Molly Elkin, the plaintiffs’ lead trial counsel, said: “Unlike the City, the jury had the backs of the FDNY EMTs and Paramedics. The EMTs and Paramedics answer thousands of calls every day, risking their lives. They should not be working for free.” Although the precise amount of backpay, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees owed will be determined at a later date, the backpay alone for the work performed by the plaintiff EMTs and Paramedics is in excess of $7,000,000. Under the FLSA, double damages are mandatory unless the employer can establish that it acted in good faith. Because the jury found that the City willfully violated the law, the City will be on the hook for double damages.
The case is captioned: Chaz Perry, et al. v. City of New York and New York Fire Department, Case No. 1:13-cv-01015 (Southern District of New York)
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