527 F.3d 299 (3rd Cir. 2008), 06-4564, Lawrence v. City of Philadelphia, Pa.
|Docket Nº:||06-4564, 06-4576.|
|Citation:||527 F.3d 299|
|Party Name:||Richard LAWRENCE; Kevin Jackson; John Cole; Scott D. McGarrigle; Richard Marks; Ivan T. Damjanovic; Morgan Miller; Alan Sigal; W. Russel Bryant; Mervin K. Ghani; Alleyne Arturo; Joni H. Kuonen; Domenic Rosati; John W. Getty; Joseph C. Mancini; William Brent; Michael Brooks; Duane J. Boyes; Michael A. Flak; J. Todd Vreeland; Adam Wojnicki; Timothy S|
|Case Date:||May 28, 2008|
|Court:||United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit|
Argued Oct. 25, 2007.
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Robert A. Jones (Argued), Chamberlain, Kaufman & Jones, Albany, NY, Attorney for Appellants.
George A. Voegele, Jr. (Argued), Cozen & O'Connor, Philadelphia, PA, Attorney for Appellee.
Brian P. Walter , Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, Los Angeles, CA, Attorney for Amici-Appellees League of California Cities, International Municipal Lawyers Association, National League of Cities, National Association of Counties, National Public Employer Labor Relations Association and the International Public Management Association for Human Resources.
Before SLOVITER , CHAGARES , and HARDIMAN , Circuit Judges.
SLOVITER , Circuit Judge.
It is generally known that by law an employer must pay time-and-a-half for overtime. It is less well-known that certain employment is exempt. We must decide an issue of first impression in this circuit, that is whether paramedics employed by the City of Philadelphia Fire Department have “legal authority and responsibility" for fire suppression activities within the meaning of the Fair Labor Standards Act, thereby bringing them among the exemptions.
Appellants are Fire Service Paramedics (“FSPs" ) employed by the City of Philadelphia Fire Department (“Fire Department" ). In July 2003, Appellants filed suit in the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, alleging that Appellee, the City of Philadelphia (“City" ), had violated the overtime payment requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA" ), specifically 29 U.S.C. § 207(a) (requiring employer to pay overtime for any employee working more than forty hours in a workweek). Pursuant to a stipulation approved by the District Court on May 31, 2006, other FSPs with similar claims were permitted to “opt in" to the action. See 29 U.S.C. § 216(b) (permitting individuals to “opt-in" by filing a written consent with district court). There are now approximately 300 named plaintiffs.
In the District Court, neither party sought a jury trial. Instead, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Both parties agreed at summary judgment that there were no material facts in dispute, leading the District Court to conclude that the case was appropriate for summary judgment. The parties take the same position on appeal.
On September 29, 2006, the District Court entered summary judgment in favor of the City and against the FSPs, thereby determining the issue of liability. Lawrence v. City of Philadelphia, No. 03-cv-4009, 2006 WL 2847330 (E.D.Pa.2006) . The FSPs appeal, arguing that the District
Court erred in determining that they were trained in and had responsibility to engage in fire suppression activities as required by 29 U.S.C. § 203(y) .
A. Overview of FLSA Framework
The FLSA states that, unless otherwise provided in the FLSA, an employer may not allow its employee to work for more than forty hours in a workweek unless the employer pays the employee “time-and-a-half" for the hours spent working over forty hours. 29 U.S.C. § 207(a) . Section 207(k) exempts a “public agency" from subsection (a)'s overtime requirements with respect to various categories of employees, including individuals engaged in “fire protection activities." 1 Section 203(y) defines what it means to be engaged in “fire protection activities." There are three statutory requirements that an individual must meet in order to be engaged in fire protection activities. The individual: (1) must be “trained in fire suppression;" (2) must have “legal authority and responsibility to engage in fire suppression;" and (3) must be “employed by a fire department." 29 U.S.C. § 203(y) . The parties agree that the third requirement has been met and is not at issue. They focus on the other two requirements, primarily whether FSPs are trained in fire suppression and have legal authority and responsibility to engage in fire suppression within the meaning of the exemption to the FLSA. If so, the exemption applies, and the City can pay a lower rate of overtime. If the City has not shown that both requirements are met, the exemption does not apply, and the City must comply with the higher overtime rate.
B. History of the FSP Program
The Fire Department employs firefighters that are assigned to about sixty engine and twenty-nine ladder companies in over sixty firehouses throughout the city. The City also employs about 300 FSPs, assigned to forty different medic units, which are located in firehouses.
In the early 1970s, the Fire Commissioner decided that the Fire Department had developed the need for individuals with paramedic skills to become part of the Fire Department's emergency response team. Because firefighters had some experience with first aid, the Commissioner decided that certain firefighters would be converted into fully trained and certified paramedics. The first group of those “cross-over" individuals went into service in 1973. In 1980, the City created a specific job classification for “fire paramedics," indicating that those individuals were fully trained both as...
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