Thread: Garcia Ruling?

  1. #1
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    Question Garcia Ruling?

    My town is considering hiring a person for our Public Works Department. Part of this person's job description will make him part of our Volunteer Ambulance Corp.

    I have been told this may violate the Garcia Ruling.

    While I have heard of the ruling, I am not up to speed on it. Could someone direct me to where I could get information. Please E-mail me privately s I do not check this site often.

    email is CliffC276@aol.com

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Cliff Cernek
    Captain
    Cresskill Volunteer First Aid Squad

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    Any more info on where the Garcia ruling came from?

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    Cliff-when all is said and done, I would appreciate it if you could post a follow up letting us know what happened and some of the advice you got.

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    I'm not Ted but he left the computer on ...

    i think what they were refering to indirectly is the "Fair labor standards act". AKA FLSA. As a thumbnail sketch I would check out FLSA.com It is a private site but has some good basic interpitation of the law which is extensive. Pay special atenion to the 7K exemption.


    Jim

    firedogg@shianet.org

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    Default So, why is 50-year-old legislation important today? FLSA and fire-based ems

    Once passed, federal legislation remains in place forever. It can be ruled unconstitutional (like NIRA,) amended (like Taft-Hartley) or repealed. Here is an example of a New Deal federal legislation that significantly affected the fire service:

    The Fair Labor Standards Act was passed in 1938. It can be found in sections 201-219 of title 29 in the United States Code. FLSA provides the minimum standards for both wages and overtime entitlement, and spells out administrative procedures by which covered work time must be compensated. FLSA established that overtime means time-and-a-half pay, 150% of an employee’s regular hourly wages. Remember, this was the time of profound underemployment. The act was designed to encourage employers to hire more people instead of paying current employees overtime.

    The Act has continued to evolve. In 1974, section 3(e)(2) of the act authorizes the act to apply to federal employees. In 1985, the Supreme Court ruled in Garcia v. San Antonio Metro Transit Authority, 469 US 528 (1985) that local public employees must abide by federal regulations on personnel management unless Congress legislates otherwise. The FLSA Act was amended in 1986 to include local government employees.

    The 1986 amended legislation included a special overtime entitlement rule for police officers and firefighters. Normally, employees are to be paid overtime starting at the 41st hour in a seven-day workweek. Public safety agencies do not have to pay firefighters or police officers overtime until after they have worked 212 hours in a maximum 28-day cycle – which averages out to a 53-hour workweek. This was the 207(k) exemption. That is also called the 7K exemption.

    The legislators described the 207(k) exemption in detail. It covered those whose work involves “the prevention, control or extinguishment of fires” for 80% of their work time. It included “housekeeping, equipment maintenance, lecturing, attending community fire drills, and inspecting homes and schools for fire hazards” as incidental non-firefighting functions.

    Like other changes in federal regulations, the inclusion of local public safety employees within the FLSA regulations required the rewriting of local personnel regulations and lawsuits to both change local law and obtain back pay. One lawsuit in 1990 revealed a significant oversight in the existing FLSA language.

    John West, Marianne Anderson and 126 other career Anne Arundel County, Maryland, firefighter/paramedics filed suit in 1990 for improperly calculated overtime payments. Some of the employees were assigned to paramedic ambulances. Other employees were working on fire suppression companies that were spending more time handling ems first responder calls than fire suppression activities. That was the key – ems activity was not described in the FLSA description of firefighter activities.

    Their primary argument was that, since more than 20% of their time was spent on non firefighting activity, the 207(k) exemption did not apply to them. Their overtime pay should start at the 41st hour and not the 54th hour of work in an average workweek. U. S. District Court Judge Walter Black ruled in favor of the employees, creating a $4 million back payment obligation for the county.

    Anne Arundel County appealed the decision to the fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Anne Arundel case was a high-profile example of many lawsuits and union grievances that were going on throughout the nation.

    (I bought a new car with my share of the Fairfax County Lt's FLSA lawsuit settlement!)

    Seven years after the West filed the lawsuit in Maryland, the appeals court upheld the majority of Black’s decision. Anne Arundel appealed the decision to the Supreme Court.

    During this time, dozens of cities were losing other FLSA lawsuits and becoming obligated for huge amounts of retroactive back pay. Payments were based on the overtime money owed when the employee worked more than 40 hours in a seven-day week. Some settlements went back eleven years, to when the FLSA Act was amended in 1986.

    While the fourth U. S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Anne Arundel employees, the eighth U. S. Court of Appeals made a different and conflicting ruling. The Supreme Court declined to hear the Anne Arundel case in December 1998. The conflicting legal opinions would stand.

    In response to this turmoil, U. S. Representative Robert Ehlrich, a Maryland Republican, introduced House Resolution 1693, the “Fire and Emergency Services Definition Act.” This act expanded the FLSA definition of “fire protection activities” to include paramedic, emergency medical technician, rescue worker, ambulance personnel or hazardous materials worker.

    This act had the support of both the International Association of Fire Fighters and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. Congress passed H. R. 1693 on November 4, 1999. The Senate passed the same resolution a week later. President Clinton signed the “Fire and Emergency Services Definition Act” into law on December 9, 1999.

    This 1999 law amended a portion of a 1938 Act that was expanded by the Supreme Court in 1985 to cover local government employees. Much of the heavy lifting on these changes came through the decade-long efforts of Anne Arundel County Professional Firefighters, IAFF Local 1563, and the headquarters staff of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

    (this is an excerpt from a book I am writing) To answer Cliff's original question, hiring a Public Works employee who happens to be able to respond as a paramedic probably STILL is a violation of the Department of Labor regulations.
    Last edited by Mike Ward; 12-12-2002 at 09:13 PM.

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