- A federal district court has approved a $3 million settlement to a class of 428 current and former employees of Air Evac EMS who claimed they were denied overtime pay in violation of the Kentucky Wage and Hour Act (Peck, et al. v. Air Evac EMS, Inc., No. 18-615 (E.D. Kentucky July 17, 2019)).
- The employees were flight paramedics, flight nurses and pilots who were initially required to work 120 hours per two-week pay period before receiving overtime; the policy was eventually changed to 84 hours per pay period. Additionally, Air Evac's nonexempt employees were entitled to shift pay when their hours worked exceeded seven shifts per pay period.
- Prior to the settlement, Air Evac changed its policy to pay nonexempt employees overtime for all hours worked in excess of 40 per week.
This settlement involved Kentucky law, but the employer's original pay practices were still problematic under federal law. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that nonexempt employees must receive overtime pay, at a rate of at least time-and-a-half, for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a given workweek. The FLSA does not limit the number of hours workers age 16 and older can work in a given workweek.
An employee's "workweek" is a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours — seven consecutive 24-hour periods. It does not have to coincide with the calendar week and can begin on any day, and at any hour of the day. DOL says that different workweeks may be established for different employees or groups of employees.
Note that averaging of hours over two or more weeks is not permitted under the FLSA. Normally, overtime pay earned in a particular workweek must be paid on the regular payday for the pay period in which the wages were earned.
In late March, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a proposed rule that would update and clarify the regular rate requirements. The proposed rule includes clarification about whether employers may exclude reimbursed expenses, payments for unused leave and other forms of pay from their regular rate of pay calculations.
The DOL is also weighing a proposed increase to the salary threshold for overtime eligibility. The change would, according to the DOL, add a million workers to the ranks of those eligible for overtime pay. The Society for Human Resource Management has announced its general support for the new overtime threshold but has requested some tweaks.