The City of New York has been ordered to pay a total of 2,519 current and former FDNY EMTs, medics, and Fire Safety Inspectors (EMTs) $14,477,026 in back pay and liquidated damages after being found liable of violating the FLSA. On October 24, 2019 a jury unanimously found the city failed to pay EMTs for time spent working before and after their scheduled work shifts. Click here, for more information.
Since the verdict, attorneys’ representing both the city and the EMTs have been at odds over the extent of money damages owed to the EMTs. The amount of back wages owed to the EMTs was no longer in dispute, however the city was trying to avoid paying liquidated damages in addition to the back wages.
United States District Court Judge Vernon Broderick denied the city’s motion to exclude liquidated damages from the award. In a December 23, 2019 decision, Judge Broderick found the EMTs are entitled to $7,238,513 in back wages (unpaid wages) and another $7,238,513 in liquidated damages. The FLSA typically requires employers pay back wages, an equal amount of liquidated damages and the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees when found liable for violating the FLSA. The parties are still wrangling over the EMTs’ attorneys’ fees. A final decision on that is likely on the horizon.
Lawsuits over pre-and-post shift activities like this one are on the rise. Many employers mistakenly believe that compensable work time begin and end with an employee’s scheduled shift. As this latest decision illustrates, that is not the case.
Here is the latest order.