New York Daily News
Time to pay up! Federal jury says city must pay FDNY EMS members for time spent preparing for their shifts
By THOMAS TRACY
They did the time — now they’re going to get paid for it.
A federal jury ordered the city to cough up millions of dollars to FDNY emergency medical technicians and paramedics who were stiffed for time spent on preparations before and after their shifts, attorneys for the first responders said Saturday.
The judgement came down Friday following a three-week trial, with the jury finding that the city violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
More than 2,500 EMTs and paramedics signed onto the suit, which claimed the city never paid them for 15 minutes prior to their tours used to prep their equipment, as well as the 15 minutes after every shift to re-stock their ambulances and exchange information with the next tour — even though they were logged into the electronic time keeping system for city employees, known as CityTime.
The city now must tabulate how much each plaintiff is owed for each lost half hour per work shift, lawyers said. The amount of back pay owed will be in the millions, they said.
“Unlike the City, the jury had the backs of the FDNY EMTs and paramedics,” Molly Elkin, McGillivary Steele Elkin LLP’s lead attorney on the case said. “The EMTs and paramedics answer thousands of calls every day, risking their lives. They should not be working for free.”
Oren Barzilay, president of FDNY EMS Local 2507, the union which represents city EMTs and paramedics said the jury “did justice” to his members.
“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,” he said.
The FDNY referred all calls for comment to the city Law Department, who said they were “evaluating the city’s legal options.”
“The valuable work these employees do has to be properly recorded and certified for the city to be able to manage its operations appropriately,” a city Law Department spokesman said.
When the lawsuit was filed in 2013, the city determined that the suing paramedics and EMTs never claimed the additional half-hour spent per shift as overtime, the spokesman said.
Over the course of the lawsuit, when EMTs and paramedics put the additional half hour into the CityTime system as overtime, nearly all of it was approved and plaintiffs received $152 million in overtime payments.
“When timekeeping procedures are followed and overtime is properly requested and entered and approved, the city pays,” the spokesman said.