Three flight paramedics and one flight nurse have filed an FLSA lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, against their employer, Air Methods Corporation. The suit alleges Air Methods improperly deducts sleep time from employees hours worked in an effort to evade FLSA overtime requirements. While this suit only includes four plaintiffs at this time, attorneys representing the initial four allege more similarly situated individuals will likely join the suit as it moves forward. According to its website, Air Methods is a private air ambulance service that employs more than 4,500 employees at over 300 bases across the country.
Department of Labor (DOL) regulations contain provisions that allow employers, under certain conditions, to exclude certain hours worked by employees for sleep time. In order for an employer to exclude sleep time from hours worked there must be an agreement between the employer and employee to exclude the sleep hours, the employer must provide adequate sleeping facilities for employees, and the employees must usually enjoy an uninterrupted night’s sleep.
Here are some excerpts from the complaint:
- Plaintiffs and similarly situated employees are typically scheduled for twenty-four-hour shifts.
- Defendant generally scheduled Plaintiffs and similarly situated employees to work at least two or more 24-hour shift for Defendant within a workweek.
- For an eight-hour period each night Defendant places Plaintiffs and similarly situated employees on sleep time.
- During this “sleep time,” Plaintiffs and similarly situated employees are not accruing hours towards earning forty hours in the workweek for overtime purposes.
- Plaintiffs do not accrue hours despite the fact that they perform work during this time period.
- Plaintiffs and similarly situated employees’ job duties, responsibilities, and obligations during sleep time do not vary from the job duties, responsibilities and obligations that they perform during non-sleep time designated hours.
- Defendant failed to provide Plaintiffs with adequate sleeping facilities.
- Defendant failed to provide a sufficient number of beds for all employees on a shift.
- Defendant failed to provide linens for each bed.
- Defendant failed to provide reasonable standards of comfort.
- Defendant failed to provide bathrooms with working bathing facilities at all bases.
- Defendant failed to provide basic kitchen facilities at all bases.
- Defendant failed to provide basic laundry facilities at all bases.
- Defendant failed to provide quiet sleeping quarters.
- The failure to provide quiet sleeping quarters interfered with Plaintiff’s ability to enjoy an uninterrupted night’s sleep.
- Plaintiffs were not usually able to enjoy an uninterrupted night’s sleep.
- Plaintiffs were not usually able to enjoy at least five hours of sleep per night.
- Defendant knew or should have known Plaintiffs’ sleeping facilities were inadequate.
Properly managing DOL sleep time deductions can be challenging for any employer. This is especially true for HR and finance professionals responsible for paying emergency service workers. Given the significant number of potential future plaintiffs, this will be worth following over the coming months.
Here is a copy of the complaint.