Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
U.S. Department of Labor
WORTHINGTON, Minn. -- The U.S. Department of Labor has recovered more than $77,000 in back wages for 21 Sanford Regional Hospital emergency medical technicians who were denied compensation for their “on-call” work hours, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Sanford Regional Hospital, owned and operated by the Sanford Health Network, is a public health care facility located in Worthington.
“Because the employers in this case were unaware of the federal wage and hour standards governing on-call work time, Sanford Regional Hospital EMTs were made to work more than 40 hours in many weeks without receiving proper compensation,” said Jose Medina, district director of the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division in Minneapolis, Minn. “Ignorance of the law is not an excuse. Employers are legally obligated to ensure that those they hire are properly compensated for their full work periods.”
After conducting employee interviews and reviewing time and payroll records, the Wage and Hour Division determined that Sanford Health Network, Sanford Regional Hospital and the hospital’s chief operations officer, Jeffrey J. Rotert, violated the FLSA by failing to compensate workers for on-call hours exceeding 40 in a week
Generally, an on-call employee who is not required to remain on the employers’ premises, and who is free to enjoy uninterrupted leisure time for personal activities, is not working and does not need to be compensated while on-call. That was not the case with these EMT workers. They were required to be on-call while at home and had to remain in proximity and in a state of readiness to report to their ambulances within six minutes of being called. On-call time becomes compensable under the FLSA when the on-call conditions are so restrictive – as in this case – or the calls to duty so frequent that the employee cannot effectively use on-call time for personal purposes.
The employers have agreed to pay back wages in the amount of $77,515 to the 21 EMTs and have also committed to not violating the FLSA in the future.
Additionally, the FLSA requires that covered employees be paid at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for all hours worked, plus time and one-half the regular hourly rates of pay, including commissions, bonuses and incentive pay, for hours worked beyond 40 per week. Employers must also maintain accurate time and payroll records.
For more information about the FLSA and other federal wage laws, call the Wage and Hour Division’s Minneapolis District Office at 612-370-3341 or call the division’s toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov/whd
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