Chicago, Illinois (July 6, 2015) – According to EMS1.com, U.S. District Judge John Darrah ruled on four separate class-action cases filed between 2006 and 2012 and has ordered the City of Chicago to distribute over $3.7 million ($1.2 million in penalties and $2.5 million in back pay) to paramedics.
The money is owed partly because of miscalculation of hours due to the 24-hour shift structure paramedics in the Chicago Fire Department Bureau of Emergency Medical Services work. This shift structure is as follows: they work 24-hour shifts, with days off between, and often work 48 hours a week. For all hours that exceed 40 per week, they are owed time and a half. Because they are not working on a “weekly” basis, but a “24- hour daily” basis, sometimes payroll would not calculate the overtime by week correctly.
Another problem was that in the calculation of their base pay, the City left out non-traditional pay such as duty availability pay, a stipend for always being on call, stipends for passing an annual fitness exam, filling a role above their designated assignment, having specialty training qualifications, and pay for taking part in continuing education training. According to court documents, this also led to the paramedics’ overtime being calculated incorrectly, as the City was using a lower base pay than was actually earned, so the paramedics were routinely shortchanged on their overtime pay this way as well.
Last year Judge Darrah ruled that the non-traditional pay should not have been left out of the base pay amount used to calculate overtime and ordered the city to pay penalties and to issue back pay for the miscalculations. Earlier this year, the City changed the way it calculates overtime to a method that will right the old mistakes and calculate paramedic overtime properly, according to Chicago city officials.