Third Circuit Deems Philadelphia Paramedics Eligible for Overtime Pay

In a two to one decision, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling and held that paramedics employed by the City of Philadelphia were entitled to time and half pay for hours over 40. See Lawrence v. City of Philadelphia, 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 11211 (3d Cir. May 28, 2008). This case concerned 300 individual paramedics that are assigned to units at firehouses throughout the City.

Pursuant to Section 207(k), the FLSA exempts certain categories of employees from overtime pay requirements who work for a “public agency.” Id. at *3. One of these categories concerns those individuals engaged in “fire prevention activities.” Id. “Fire prevention activities” is defined in Section 203(y) of the FLSA, which outlines the statutory requirements that an individual must meet in order to fulfill this exemption. “The individual: (1) must be “trained in fire suppression;’ (2) must have legal authority and responsibility to engage in fire suppression;” and (3) must be ˜employed by a fire department.’” Id. at **3-4 (quoting 29 U.S.C. 203(y)(1)) (emphasis added). In addition, the paramedic must be “engaged in the prevention, control, and extinguishment of fires or response to emergency situations where life, property, or the environment is at risk.” 29 U.S.C. 203(y)(2). The only issue in this case, which was one of first impression within the Circuit, was whether the paramedics, who were employed by the City’s Fire Department, had “legal authority and responsibility’ for fire suppression activities within the meaning of the Fair Labor Standards Act, thereby bringing them among the exemptions.” Id. at **1-2. Read the rest of this entry

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