Captain Margerita Noland-Moore, a paramedic for the City of Cleveland’s Division of Emergency Medical Services, has filed a lawsuit against the city alleging she and as many as 300 other city EMS employees have been shorted overtime pay. The complaint, which was filed on November 26, alleges several specific violations of both the FLSA and Ohio law.
According to the complaint, the city failed to include all remuneration in Capt. Noland-Moore’s regular rate of pay for FLSA overtime purposes. The FLSA requires virtually all the money paid to an employee included in the regular rate of pay. Proper calculation of an employee’s regular rate is critical because all FLSA overtime must be at least time and one-half of the employee’s regular rate. Proper calculation of an employee’s regular rate is not always an easy task.
An employee’s regular rate of pay is not necessarily the rate of pay negotiated in a labor agreement or prescribed in a city policy. The regular rate can only be determined after examining all of the money paid to an employee. Including money paid to employees in the form of wage augments. Common wage augments include additional money paid to an employee for longevity, advanced educational degrees or certifications, working out-of-rank, shift differential pay, and many more. These wage augments must be included in the regular rate.
Here, Captain Noland-Moore alleges the city failed to include a $700 annual longevity payment and a $.35 per hour shift differential pay in her regular rate of pay. Individually, Captain Noland-Moore’s unpaid overtime claims may not be significant. However, as is common in FLSA suits, the original plaintiff—Noland-Moore in this case—is only one of many possible plaintiffs. Noland-Moore’s attorneys estimate as many as 300 similarly situated current and former employees of the city’s Division of EMS also have similar overtime claims. If the court grants their motion to allow these folks to opt-in to this suit, back wages and damages will likely increase exponentially.
Noland-Moore is seeking back wages, compensatory, and liquidated damages, in addition to reimbursement for her attorneys’ fees. Here is a copy of the complaint.