Emergency Medical Technicians and paramedics have filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Honolulu, alleging the city violated the federal wage hour law by not paying EMTs and paramedics overtime and back wages over a period of three years.
The EMTs and parademics allege that the city knowingly deprived them of overtime
pay, even though the paramedics repeatedly notified the dity it was not paying them overtime they were owed.
Dr. Jim Ireland, Director of the Honolulu Emergency Services Department released the following statement: "The Honolulu Emergency Services Department has not officially been served with a complaint, therefore at this time the department has no comment."
The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii. The lawsuit seeks an injunction for violations of the federal law, payment of overtime owed over the past three years and additional penalties.
"All hourly workers who put in an honest day's work are entitled to receive an honest day's pay," said their attorney, Carl Varady. "All employers including the City must obey federal overtime law and regulations. Honolulu residents receive valuable and life saving services from their EMTs and Paramedics. Federal law requires that they be paid overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a week."
"For years we have tried to get the City to pay us overtime when we work more than 40 hours in a work week," said lead plaintiff Sonya Adams, who has been a paramedic for 13 years. "Every pay period employees enter our time correctly, but when we get our paychecks, there are shortages in overtime for many of us that can take as long as six years to correct. We love our jobs and helping people in emergency situations, but none of us can afford to wait six years to get paid."
"My biggest concern is for recent retirees. Their earnings were lower than they should be because the City has not paid their overtime as the law requires. Their pensions are going to be lower than they should be for the rest of their lives,” said Adams.