PHILADELPHIA (CN) – More than 300 paramedics for the Philadelphia Fire Department won the right to receive overtime pay in a 3rd Circuit ruling. The court voted 2-1 to reject the city’s argument that fire service paramedics fall under an exemption from Fair Labor Standards Act overtime requirements that applies to workers who “engage in fire protection activities.”
Judge Dolores Sloviter said fire service paramedics do not qualify as exempted fire protection employees, because they “are not hired to fight fires, not even in a small part.”
“Every substantive aspect of the job description is medical in nature,” Sloviter added, citing the statistic that plaintiffs’ dispatches to actual fires account for 0.1 percent of their total annual dispatches. That’s about five to 10 times a year, compared to 6,000 to 8,000 total dispatches for emergency medical services. Even when fire paramedics are called to a fire, it’s for the purposes of providing medical care, not for putting out a fire, the ruling states.
For these reasons, the court concluded that fire paramedics do not fall within the overtime exemption and should receive time-and-a-half for working more than 40 hours a week.