FDNY EMS Officers File FLSA Class Action

Five FDNY EMS officers have filed suit against the city alleging they were wrongly denied compensation for pre- and post-shift meetings, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. George Kroustallis, Anthony Almojera, Donald Browne, Barret Hirsch, Vincent Variale filed suit last Friday in US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The suit alleges that the officers, who are EMS captains and lieutenants referred to as Supervising Emergency Medical Services Specialist (SEMSS), were required to be present for 15 to 30 minutes per shift to exchange of information with other officers at shift changes. It claims the city has refused the officers’ requests for compensation for the time.

The suit seeks class action status on behalf of all FDNY SEMSS. According to the complaint:

  • Defendants required Plaintiffs to work before and after their scheduled shift time for the purpose of being briefed by the SEMSS that they were relieving, and for briefing the SEMSS that were relieving them of their shifts.
  • The briefing consisted of reporting the status of Plaintiffs’ respective stations, including matters regarding equipment or supplies, significant events, directives or orders, and any other relevant EMS operations.
  • The briefings were approximately fifteen (15) minutes each, for a combined post and pre-shift total of approximately thirty (30) minutes per day. The length of the briefings varies depending upon the size of the station that each Plaintiff was assigned to.
  • Defendants willfully violated the FLSA by refusing to compensate Plaintiffs for all pre-shift and post-shift briefing time.

The officers are seeking double damages, plus attorneys fees. Here is a copy of the suit: kroustallis-et-al-v-the-city-of-new-york-et-al

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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