Rural Metro Facing Class Action Suit Over No-Break Policy

A class action lawsuit has been filed by EMS personnel working for Rural Metro of San Diego accusing the EMS giant of violating California’s labor laws that require employees be given adequate rest and meal time each day.

The case was filed in San Diego County Superior Court in February, but removed to US District Court at the request of Rural Metro earlier this month. The suit alleges two counts:

  • Failure to Authorize and Permit Rest Periods
  • Unfair and Unlawful Business Practices In Violation Of California Business And Professions Code Section 17200

According to the complaint:

  • Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Orders 4 and 9, Section 12, require an employer to authorize and permit all employees to take rest periods, which insofar as practicable shall be in the middle of each work period at a rate of ten (10) minutes net rest time per four (4) hours of work or major fraction thereof, although a rest period need not be authorized for employees whose total daily work time is less than three and one-half (3 ½) hours. Authorized rest periods shall be counted as hours worked for which there shall be no deduction from wages.
  • During the four years before the filing of this Complaint, Plaintiffs and those similarly situated were not authorized or permitted to take rest periods during which they were relieved of all duties because they were required to remain on call at all times and were required to carry pagers, cell phones, radios, or other electronic devices, to keep those devices on, and to remain vigilant and responsive to, tails when the need arose, in violation of Wage Orders 4 and 9, and Labor Code Section 226.7(b).
  • By not authorizing and permitting Plaintiffs and the putative class to take rest periods during which they were relieved of all duty, as alleged above, such acts by Defendants, and each of them, constitute unfair and/or unlawful business practices under Business and Professions Code section 17200, et. seq. Defendants’ violations of California wage and hour laws constitute a business practice because they were done repeatedly within 4 years before the date of the filing of this Complaint throughout the State of California, and in a systematic manner, to the detriment of Plaintiffs.

Although the case was filed in state court on state law grounds, it was removed pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d), which allows class action lawsuits with 100 or more plaintiffs, involving citizens of different states, and an amount in controversy that exceeds $5,000,000.00, to be removed to federal court even when the matters rest entirely on state law.

Here is a copy of the complaint: Calleros v Rural Metro

Here is the removal petition: Calleros v Rural Metro REMOVAL

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About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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