Two Arkansas paramedics have filed a lawsuit alleging that their employer, Ambulance Services of Forrest City, LLC (Forrest City, LLC), violated the FLSA by not including nondiscretionary bonuses in their regular rate of pay in violation of the FLSA and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (AMWA). The suit, which was filed on October 19, 2023, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas contains allegations that Forrest City, LLC fails to include incentive bonuses paid to medics, EMTs, and nurses for working additional shifts in the medics’ regular rate of pay. The two plaintiffs filed the lawsuit on behalf of themselves and other “similarly situated” individuals.
Proper calculation of the regular rate has been called the “linchpin of the FLSA’s overtime requirement.” That is because the FLSA requires that all overtime pay be at least time and one-half of the employee’s regular rate of pay. Very often employers mistakenly believe that an employee’s base hourly rate is also the employee’s regular rate. That is not the case.
The FLSA requires that all “remuneration” is included in an employee’s regular rate of pay. This includes money paid to an employee in the form of nondiscretionary bonuses, like incentives to work overtime, retention bonuses, and sign-on bonuses. Failing to include all remuneration [i.e., bonuses] in an employee’s regular rate of pay will result in shorting that employee’s overtime rate of pay.
Here is a copy of the complaint and a recent post from FirefighterOvertime.org on the inclusion of bonuses for working overtime in an employee’s regular rate of pay.