PITTSBURGH, PA – After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Jefferson Hills Area Ambulance Association – a private ambulance service operating as Southeast Regional EMS in Clairton and Elizabeth, Pennsylvania – has paid $35,492 in back wages to 12 first responder employees for violating overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
WHD investigators found that the employer failed to comply with an FLSA provision that allows employers to deduct eight hours of sleep time for employees whose duties require 24-hour shifts, such as first responders, under certain conditions. Federal law allows an employee on duty for 24 hours or more to agree to allow the employer to exclude a scheduled eight-hour sleep period from their total of hours worked per shift. The exclusion applies only if the employer furnishes adequate sleeping facilities and prevents work responsibilities from interrupting the employee’s sleep period.
In this case, when the employer failed to provide some employees a reasonable period of sleep – at least five hours – due to both the frequency and total time of interruptions, the conditions for the exclusion were not met. As a result, the employer was required to include the previously excluded eight-hour sleep period as work time.
Following the investigation, the employer paid eight employees at the Clairton location $25,545 and four employees at the Elizabeth location $9,947 in back wages.
“The Wage and Hour Division is committed to ensuring that employees receive the wages they have legally earned for all the hours they have worked – including legally required overtime,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director John DuMont in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. “The U.S. Department of Labor encourages all employers to reach out to us for information on how to comply with the law and avoid violations like those found in this case.”
The Department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos and confidential calls to local WHD offices.
For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.
WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the Nation’s workforce. WHD enforces Federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor requirements of the FLSA. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to Federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.