A federal lawsuit filed by Honolulu paramedic Robert Hayslip will expand to include hundreds of other “similarly situated” EMTs and medics following a federal judge’s ruling last week. United States District Court Judge, Derrick K. Watson granted a motion filed by Hayslip’s attorneys to conditionally certify the lawsuit as a “collective action.” According to Hayslip’s attorneys, as many as 300 additional EMTs and paramedics will be able to join the lawsuit. This estimate includes both current and former employees that have worked for Honolulu Emergency Medical Services between September 2019 to today.
While receiving collective action status is not unusual in FLSA litigation, it illustrates how one simple inadvertent and/or unintentional error can turn into a significant legal liability for employers. This is especially true when it comes to the proper calculation of an employee’s regular rate of pay. Many employers mistakenly believe that an employee’s regular rate is the same as their base or contract rate of pay. This is not necessarily the case. The FLSA requires all remuneration for employment included in an employee’s regular rate with only a few very specific exceptions.
Here, one of Hayslip’s allegations is that Honolulu failed to properly calculate his [and other EMTs and medics] regular rate of pay in violation of the FLSA. More specifically, that hazard pay provided to EMTs and medics was excluded from the regular and overtime rate calculation. Department of Labor regulations specifically identify premiums paid for hazardous work included in an employee’s regular rate. Here is more on Hayslip’s complaint from September 2022. More importantly, with more than 300 potential additional plaintiffs, this will not be the last time we will be discussing this one.
Additionally, here is a copy of the most recent Order.
Finally, time is running out to register for next week’s Advanced FLSA: Calculating the Regular Rate for Firefighters and other First Responders. In this [approx.] 4-hour live webinar we take a deep-dive into the different ways to calculate a first responder’s regular rate of pay, current trends and issues facing emergency service providers, and best practices to effectively calculate a firefighter and/or other first responder’s regular rate.