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Jacksonville ambulance service provider sued by employees, alleging unfair labor practices

The employees of a Jacksonville ambulance service provider filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging unfair labor practices.

The case was in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas Western Division and was filed against Southern Paramedic Services Inc.

The July action was amended from court action taken by plaintiff several months ago. In late July, Judge Brian Miller certified a class action case against Southern Paramedic on behalf of its employees in a wage and hour Fair Labor Standards Act Case.

“On Nov. 8, 2012, plaintiffs Maxwell Farnsworth, Wendy Smith, and Shelby Cheatham filed an amended class action complaint against defendants Southern Paramedic, Inc. and Southern Care, Inc.,” states the lawsuit. “Defendants collectively provide ambulance and emergency services in nine locations throughout the state of Arkansas and employ drivers, licensed paramedics, and emergency medical technicians (“EMTs”). Plaintiffs are current and former employees of defendants.”

The plaintiffs allege that defendants did not compensate its employees for time spent taking showers, completing paperwork, cleaning and restocking ambulances, or attending non-voluntary community events.

“Plaintiffs further allege that they were not compensated for time worked in excess of 40 hours per week or for time that was mischaracterized as ‘sleep time’,” according to the lawsuit. “Plaintiffs seek damages for all improperly compensated time under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the Arkansas Minimum Wage Act (“AMWA”).”

The FLSA provides that an action for unpaid overtime pay may be maintained against an employer by “any one or more employees for and in behalf of himself or themselves and other employees similarly situated.”

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs have also shown that they worked in the same geographic locations, were subject to the same policies and practices, and that they were similarly underpaid during the same time period. First, plaintiffs worked in several of defendants’ nine locations across Arkansas and employees at each of the locations are subject to the same policies and procedures. Second, they want to certify a class of paramedics, EMTs and drivers beginning in October 2008, so the violations at issue occurred during the same time period. Third, each plaintiff alleges that he or she was not compensated for “sleep time,” attending non-voluntary community events in a work capacity, and for maintaining and cleaning the ambulances.

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