American Medical Response (AMR), the “nation’s largest provider of ground medical transportation” is facing an FLSA misclassification lawsuit from a former contract paramedic on behalf of himself, and other similarly situated individuals. The lawsuit, which was filed by former AMR medic Nathanial Dagley in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, contains allegations that AMR misclassified Dagley and other EMTs and paramedics as independent contractors instead of hourly employees while deployed on numerous natural disasters and other emergency operations.
According to the complaint, FEMA contracts with AMR to “provide ground ambulance, air ambulance, paratransit services and non-ambulance emergency medical services (“EMS”) personnel to supplement federal and military response to a disaster, an act of terrorism, or any other public health emergency.” Whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor can only be determined by examining the specific facts of the situation. Independent contractors do not receive any protections provided to employees under the FLSA or other wage and hour laws. This is further explained in the complaint:
Plaintiff and the proposed FLSA Collective were required to work a minimum amount of time on each deployment. While deployed, Plaintiff and the proposed FLSA Collective worked exclusively for Defendant on a continuing basis. Plaintiff and those similarly situated did not sell or advertise their services to the general public or work for any other company other than Defendant.
Defendant misclassified Plaintiff and others similarly situated as independent contractors.
Defendant avoided paying overtime premiums, reduced its tax liability and avoided paying workers’ compensation by classifying Plaintiff and other paramedics and EMTs as independent contractors.
Defendant subjected Plaintiff and the proposed FLSA Collective to its direction and control, including the manner in which they performed their work. For example:
- Defendant dictated the minimum number of days Plaintiff was expected to work on each deployment.
- Plaintiff and those similarly situated reported to AMR’s task force leader who communicated Plaintiff’s daily work schedule, expectations, and details with respect to the work being performed.
- AMR’s task force leaders, oversaw a group of emergency support personnel at each deployment site, answered questions, addressed concerns, and performed other supervisory functions.
- Defendant required Plaintiff to report his work hours each day.
- Through its contract with FEMA and other agencies, Defendant determined Plaintiff’s manner and rate of pay. Plaintiff was paid a flat daily rate for each day he worked. Plaintiff was not able to negotiate his pay rate.
- Defendant dispatched, tracked, and communicated with Plaintiff and those similarly situated using its own mobile satellite communications network.
- Defendant provided housing/lodging (typically a hotel room in which Defendant assigned Plaintiff a roommate), meals, and reimbursed Plaintiff and those similarly situated for any additional expenses they incurred in conjunction with their work.
- Defendant provided the supplies and equipment necessary for Plaintiff and those similarly situated to complete their work. This included but was not limited to medical supplies, medications, ambulances (with specific fueling stations), and other equipment provided on an on- demand basis as needed.
- Defendant required Plaintiff and the similarly situated paramedics and EMTs to follow Defendant’s instructions, processes, and policies regarding the method by which their work was to be completed.
- Defendant required paramedics and EMTs to obtain specific certifications to perform work at Defendant’s work sites.
- Defendant required Plaintiff and those similarly situated to track the work they completed each day and to submit reports outlining that work.
Plaintiff and those similarly situated were/are not in business for themselves; rather, they were/are integral to Defendant’s business.
Plaintiff routinely worked more than 40 hours in a workweek for Defendant. For example, during the workweek beginning January 2, 2022, he worked approximately 80 hours. Defendant did not compensate him with an overtime premium during this workweek, or in any other workweeks.
Defendant did not pay Plaintiff or others similarly situated an overtime premium for the overtime hours they worked. Defendant is aware that some of its paramedics and EMTs routinely worked over 40 hours per week and were not paid overtime because Defendant scheduled them and required them to complete shifts that resulted in overtime.
Defendant is aware of the hours its paramedics and EMTs worked because it required them to submit their hours on an ICS (Incident Command System) form each day/shift, and/or report their hours via phone in Defendant’s call-in system (NATCOM).
Here is a copy of the complaint.