A federal appellate court upheld a jury finding that the City of New York recklessly failed to pay FDNY EMTs and paramedics pre-shift and post-shift overtime
Second Circuit Upholds Jury Verdict in Favor of 2,500 NYC EMT and Paramedics
A federal appellate court upheld a jury finding that the City of New York recklessly failed to pay
FDNY EMTs and paramedics pre-shift and post-shift overtime
NEW YORK, NY– On August 25, 2023, the Second Circuit upheld the 2019 findings of a
unanimous jury verdict in favor of the plaintiffs, 2,519 EMTs and Paramedics employed by the
FDNY and the City of New York, in an action brought pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act
In 2019, a federal 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. The City appealed, and the parties argued the
matter before the Court of Appeals in February of 2023. In its August 25, 2023, decision, the
Second Circuit affirmed that employers must pay their employees for all work they know about
or require, even if the employee has not specifically requested compensation for such overtime
work. In addition, the Second Circuit clarified that whether an employer knows the employee is
not being paid for overtime worked is irrelevant to establishing liability under the Fair Labor
Standards Act. As the Court found:
If the employer suffers or permits the work—either by requiring it, knowing about it, or failing to exercise reasonable diligence to discover it—then it must compensate the employee, even if the employee failed to report the work and even if the employer did not know that the employee was working unpaid.
The Court also found that there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that the City knew the plaintiffs were performing unreported overtime work and took insufficient action to address the situation. After considering the trial record, the Second Circuit explicitly rejected each of the arguments raised by the City and affirmed the jury’s finding and the district court’s ruling on damages.
Oren Barzilay, the President of AFSCME Local 2507, Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics & Fire Inspectors, remarked: “This is excellent news for the plaintiffs, and for all EMTs and Paramedics who work for the City, risking their lives on a daily basis to protect the citizens of New York.
They deserve to be paid for all their work time and the City’s timekeeping system deprived them of that.”
The Washington, D.C. law firm of McGillivary Steele Elkin LLP represented the plaintiffs in
both the appeal as well as the three-week trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District
of New York before the Honorable Judge Vernon S. Broderick. Following the release of the
decision, Sara Faulman of McGillivary Steele Elkin, LLP, who argued the appeal before the
Court, said: “We are thrilled that the appellate court upheld the rights of workers to be paid for
all overtime work, and that the jury’s unanimous verdict – which told the City that it must pay its
first responders for the work they perform before and after their scheduled shifts – will finally be
respected by the City.”
McGillivary Steele Elkin LLP is a labor and employment law firm located in Washington, D.C.
We represent workers and unions in a variety of cases involving wage and hour claims, retaliation
from union activity, and worker discrimination.