FDNY FF/EMS EQUAL PAY DISPARITY CLASS ACTION - FEDERAL SUIT 1/10/2023

mack

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Feds Slap City Over FDNY EMS Equal Pay Disparity​

Jan. 10, 2023
EMS responders have been historically underpaid compared to FDNY firefighters since merging with the department in 1996.
By Thomas Tracy


 

mack

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EMS unions file lawsuit after EEOC reports pay gap between FDNY EMS providers, firefighters​

The suit states the city suppressed the salaries of EMS providers and says their work is substantially equal to firefighters' work

Yesterday at 9:58 AM


By Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — The federal government wants the city to resolve the massive salary gaps between its firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics — a bombshell determination that has become the backbone of a new class action discrimination lawsuit for equal pay among the city’s first responders, the Daily News has learned.
About 25 current and retired city Emergency Medical Service workers have signed onto the lawsuit, which centers around the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s decision that City Hall has “discriminated against current and former first responders of the FDNY’s EMS, based on race and sex, from at least November 8, 2018 to the present with respect to pay, benefits and terms and conditions of employment.”
20230109-AMX-US-NEWS-FEDS-SLAP-NYC-OVER-FDNY-1-NY.jpg
FDNY EMS providers and firefighters were at the scene of a fire in Midtown Manhattan on March 9, 2021. (Photo/Luiz C. Ribeiro/Tribune News Service)
The feds recommended in December 2021 that the city “reach a just resolution of this matter” and opened the door for a potential lawsuit if the city “declined to enter into conciliation discussions.”
With no further movement on the issue, EMS unions stepped through that door on Dec. 7 with the class action lawsuit filed in Manhattan Federal court seeking to correct the pay disparity.
Citing the EEOC report, the 57-page suit argues that the city “suppressed the salaries of EMS First Responders despite the fact that they perform work that is substantially equal in the required skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions as their fire side colleagues.”
As a result, EMTs and paramedics have suffered a “loss of wages, salaries and benefits, as well as emotional hardship and mental anguish,” the lawsuit notes.
EMS employees have been historically underpaid compared to FDNY firefighters and other first responders since merging with the department in 1996.
The pay gaps between the two groups continue to this day, even though the EEOC determined that EMTs and paramedics work just as hard as their firefighting counterparts, something that was made abundantly clear during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The investigation showed that workloads, working conditions, training, and risks to EMS first responders and firefighters are comparable, with a substantial degree of overlapping duties, especially with respect to medical emergencies,” according to the EEOC decision, which was completed after a two-year investigation. “The evidence further shows the two groups have comparable accountability and responsibility.”
Despite their interlocking duties with the firefighters, city EMTs and paramedics weren’t considered uniformed personnel until a 2001 City Council law was passed. The Council further intervened in 2020, passing a resolution calling for EMS to be paid the same as firefighters, but the city has failed to take action, the EEOC decision noted.
Entry-level EMTs are paid a base salary of $39,386, according to the lawsuit. Within five years, their pay increases to $59,534. City firefighters start their careers with a salary of $43,904 that goes up to $85,292 after five years.
The pay gaps continue throughout the EMS member’s career. EMS chiefs and commanders earn $135,053 a year while their counterparts on the fire side “who perform substantially equal work in skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions” make $235,000 a year.
While the city’s firefighter force is mostly made up of white men, EMS is mostly people of color and has many women, causing a racial and gender disparity, the lawsuit added.
“EMS first responders work in the same conditions and perform at least as rigorous work and require at least as much training and effort, with at least as much regular hazards, if not more than, fire first responders,” the lawsuit said.
“Yet it is [the city’s] policy and practice to compensate the EMS first responders substantially less than their almost exclusively male and overwhelmingly white counterparts on the fire side of the FDNY,” the suit said.
“The injustice of pay inequity in the FDNY was not created by the current mayor or the current fire commissioner,” said Vincent Variale, president of Local 3621, which represents EMS lieutenants and captains. “But it is their moral and legal obligation to end it. Thanks to the work of the EEOC they have the opportunity to put this dark chapter of the FDNY behind us.”
Oren Barzilay, head of Local 2507, which represents rank-and-file EMTs and paramedics, called the EEOC decision “a historic moment for New York City’s emergency medical service members.”
An FDNY spokesman could not comment on the lawsuit, citing the ongoing litigation.
“The FDNY is committed to fair and equitable pay practices. The case is under review,” a Law Department spokesman said in a statement.
When pay disparity issues are raised, the FDNY says they’re not to blame and any pay increases are hashed out by the city and union negotiators at the bargaining table.
“I personally believe that they are not compensated as they should,” former Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told a City Council committee in 2021 when asked why EMS isn’t receiving better wages. “But we don’t control the process.”
When she was the FDNY first deputy commissioner, current FDNY Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh was involved in the EMS union’s 2021 contract negotiations, which led to a salary increase for EMS employees, including a 6% bump for all EMTs and paramedics who agreed to be trained to respond to mental health calls.
©2023 New York Daily News.
 

DaveReinstein

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EMS unions file lawsuit after EEOC reports pay gap between FDNY EMS providers, firefighters​

The suit states the city suppressed the salaries of EMS providers and says their work is substantially equal to firefighters' work

Yesterday at 9:58 AM


By Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — The federal government wants the city to resolve the massive salary gaps between its firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics — a bombshell determination that has become the backbone of a new class action discrimination lawsuit for equal pay among the city’s first responders, the Daily News has learned.
About 25 current and retired city Emergency Medical Service workers have signed onto the lawsuit, which centers around the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s decision that City Hall has “discriminated against current and former first responders of the FDNY’s EMS, based on race and sex, from at least November 8, 2018 to the present with respect to pay, benefits and terms and conditions of employment.”
View attachment 28750
FDNY EMS providers and firefighters were at the scene of a fire in Midtown Manhattan on March 9, 2021. (Photo/Luiz C. Ribeiro/Tribune News Service)
The feds recommended in December 2021 that the city “reach a just resolution of this matter” and opened the door for a potential lawsuit if the city “declined to enter into conciliation discussions.”
With no further movement on the issue, EMS unions stepped through that door on Dec. 7 with the class action lawsuit filed in Manhattan Federal court seeking to correct the pay disparity.
Citing the EEOC report, the 57-page suit argues that the city “suppressed the salaries of EMS First Responders despite the fact that they perform work that is substantially equal in the required skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions as their fire side colleagues.”
As a result, EMTs and paramedics have suffered a “loss of wages, salaries and benefits, as well as emotional hardship and mental anguish,” the lawsuit notes.
EMS employees have been historically underpaid compared to FDNY firefighters and other first responders since merging with the department in 1996.
The pay gaps between the two groups continue to this day, even though the EEOC determined that EMTs and paramedics work just as hard as their firefighting counterparts, something that was made abundantly clear during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The investigation showed that workloads, working conditions, training, and risks to EMS first responders and firefighters are comparable, with a substantial degree of overlapping duties, especially with respect to medical emergencies,” according to the EEOC decision, which was completed after a two-year investigation. “The evidence further shows the two groups have comparable accountability and responsibility.”
Despite their interlocking duties with the firefighters, city EMTs and paramedics weren’t considered uniformed personnel until a 2001 City Council law was passed. The Council further intervened in 2020, passing a resolution calling for EMS to be paid the same as firefighters, but the city has failed to take action, the EEOC decision noted.
Entry-level EMTs are paid a base salary of $39,386, according to the lawsuit. Within five years, their pay increases to $59,534. City firefighters start their careers with a salary of $43,904 that goes up to $85,292 after five years.
The pay gaps continue throughout the EMS member’s career. EMS chiefs and commanders earn $135,053 a year while their counterparts on the fire side “who perform substantially equal work in skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions” make $235,000 a year.
While the city’s firefighter force is mostly made up of white men, EMS is mostly people of color and has many women, causing a racial and gender disparity, the lawsuit added.
“EMS first responders work in the same conditions and perform at least as rigorous work and require at least as much training and effort, with at least as much regular hazards, if not more than, fire first responders,” the lawsuit said.
“Yet it is [the city’s] policy and practice to compensate the EMS first responders substantially less than their almost exclusively male and overwhelmingly white counterparts on the fire side of the FDNY,” the suit said.
“The injustice of pay inequity in the FDNY was not created by the current mayor or the current fire commissioner,” said Vincent Variale, president of Local 3621, which represents EMS lieutenants and captains. “But it is their moral and legal obligation to end it. Thanks to the work of the EEOC they have the opportunity to put this dark chapter of the FDNY behind us.”
Oren Barzilay, head of Local 2507, which represents rank-and-file EMTs and paramedics, called the EEOC decision “a historic moment for New York City’s emergency medical service members.”
An FDNY spokesman could not comment on the lawsuit, citing the ongoing litigation.
“The FDNY is committed to fair and equitable pay practices. The case is under review,” a Law Department spokesman said in a statement.
When pay disparity issues are raised, the FDNY says they’re not to blame and any pay increases are hashed out by the city and union negotiators at the bargaining table.
“I personally believe that they are not compensated as they should,” former Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro told a City Council committee in 2021 when asked why EMS isn’t receiving better wages. “But we don’t control the process.”
When she was the FDNY first deputy commissioner, current FDNY Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh was involved in the EMS union’s 2021 contract negotiations, which led to a salary increase for EMS employees, including a 6% bump for all EMTs and paramedics who agreed to be trained to respond to mental health calls.
©2023 New York Daily News.
they should get a bump. But whenever I see kavanagh’s name the word nepotism comes to mind. I see they’re playing the sex and race discrimination card as well. Very typical
 

memorymaster

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You would cringe to see what a retired EMS Lt. receives monthly in a pension check, Good luck to them and I hope they win.
 

twoteamtease

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I’m all for pay raises - but until I ever see an EMT anywhere close to an IDLH, I won’t get my hopes up.
 

Lebby

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I’m all for pay raises - but until I ever see an EMT anywhere close to an IDLH, I won’t get my hopes up.
FDNY EMTs and Medics have a subset of members specifically trained to work in IDLH using PPE, SCBA, PAPR, hazmat suits and/or the Rebreather. We are not only trained but also have gone into many IDLH environments.
 

Capttomo

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EMS in NYC is very much different than many many other jurisdictions. The patient handling alone! So many 5 story apartment buildings without elevators, taller buildings without working elevators. Removing patients great distances from subways and then up the subway stairs. The physical threats and sometimes actual assaults they receive on a daily basis. The call volume . The traffic. Having to pay a city tax on their paycheck like cops and firemen. Not too many places like it around the country, and those that are similar typically pay better and many are true Fire based EMS - not civilian EMS working under a fire department. How can sanitation workers in NYC have better pay and a better contract than NYC EMS ? The pay and contract benefits should at least be on par with the DSNY. Good luck
 

entropychaser

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The opposite problem happened with the Houston FD a couple of decades ago.

When they took over EMS service in 1971, it was done with firefighters trained as EMTs and (with extra pay) paramedics. They worked the same hours and were quartered in firehouses., Some were assigned on EMS units, the rest on suppression units. Rank structure was unified. Everyone belonged to IAFF Local 341.

The Fair Labor Standards Act specified the 40 hour work week- firefighters had an exemption for longer hours permitted before overtime kicked in.

Years later, it was noted that there was no exemption for EMS personnel. So. every firefighter who worked on medical units during this time period had not gotten proper overtime pay. Congress immediately amended the law to cover firefighters/EMTs. But the damage was done.

The ensuing lawsuit ultimately was heard in the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The Court ordered the City of Houston to cough up $9.3 million in back pay to involved members.

See: Vela et al-v-The City of Houston, US Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit 276F.3d 659 2001
 

mack

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FDNY and NYPD had pay parity beginning 1898:

The New York Times

September 24, 1987

"Mayor Koch has formally rejected a proposal from an advisory panel he appointed that called for raising police officers' pay 42 percent, an increase that would end pay parity with firefighters.

''Such increases could lay the foundation for the city's economic unraveling,'' said a 28-page Koch administration response to the recommendations of the panel, the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Police Management and Personnel Policy.

Police-fire parity, under which police officers and firefighters with comparable experience are paid the same, dates from 1898. Correction officers have also won equal-pay status. In addition, wages for sanitation workers are pegged at 90 percent of uniformed officers' pay.

Mr. Koch's response was an unusual rejection of a conclusion reached by a panel he had appointed. He sent his response to the committee chairman, John E. Zuccotti. In a cover letter, the Mayor noted that he endorsed most of the other findings of the panel. 'An Unfortunate Oversight'"



Parity used to be an important contract negotiation tool for city cops and firefighters as pay raises were linked together. Corrections and Sanitation were also tied into pay parity percentages. Parity understandings, however, between the city and between unions have transformed significantly since Koch's 1987 statement, with independent union bargaining and separate benefits negotiated for each department as firefighter and police roles and duties expanded. OT, bonuses, work hours, etc are more complex. Today, EMS parity would probably not be supported by city fire and police unions. No union would probably want to be limited fighting for their members pay by a parity agreement tied to another union making less. Would the UFA or PBA agree to lower pay raises to increase NYC EMS pay levels because of parity? Do unions want to start comparing job requirements, duties, skills and dangers fighting parity agreements? Probably not. It is best for unions and their members to be supportive of each other but independent.

FDNY EMS pay is too low, working conditions are increasingly difficult and it continues to get harder to hire, train and retain EMTs and medics. They should be paid more and treated better - because they deserve to be, regardless of parity.
 
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twoteamtease

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FDNY EMTs and Medics have a subset of members specifically trained to work in IDLH using PPE, SCBA, PAPR, hazmat suits and/or the Rebreather. We are not only trained but also have gone into many IDLH environments.
Thats fine. Medics and all advanced training on the EMS side garners more wages does it not?

The Fire side is trained appropriately to 99 percent of the medical level the basic EMT is.
 

Lebby

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Thats fine. Medics and all advanced training on the EMS side garners more wages does it not?

The Fire side is trained appropriately to 99 percent of the medical level the basic EMT is.
Unfortunately it's not competitive enough, just last week a Lieutenant I know left at 37 years old to join NYPD as a rookie. When compared to other city jobs and even more so voluntary EMS, we are not able to retain our members. I will admit I've ever been a proponent of equal pay especially EMTs and FFs. I agree our jobs are significantly different and the above point was more a matter of semantics than anything. Perhaps between paramedics and firefighters which are hypothetically both a promotion from EMT there should be more equality, but that isn't far from happening after the most recent contract. That said I think the low pay does suppression a disfavor by enticing members who want nothing to do with firefighting to become firefighters due to the pay increase.
 

nfd2004

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Unfortunately it's not competitive enough, just last week a Lieutenant I know left at 37 years old to join NYPD as a rookie. When compared to other city jobs and even more so voluntary EMS, we are not able to retain our members. I will admit I've ever been a proponent of equal pay especially EMTs and FFs. I agree our jobs are significantly different and the above point was more a matter of semantics than anything. Perhaps between paramedics and firefighters which are hypothetically both a promotion from EMT there should be more equality, but that isn't far from happening after the most recent contract. That said I think the low pay does suppression a disfavor by enticing members who want nothing to do with firefighting to become firefighters due to the pay increase.

Lebby, you are there doing the job, so I MUST RESPECT WHAT YOU SAY.

In places that I know of where the EMS Ambulances are a part of the local fire department, each firefighter with less than 15 years on the job, being a member of that local IAFF organization, excluding officers, MUST rotate between working the fire apparatus and the fire department ambulance.

If a member with over 15 years seniority wishes to still work the ambulance on an overtime basis, they must inform the department in writing that they wish to do so. Although that also includes being moved around during the shift to an ambulance if needed.
I believe this sign up is on an annual basis.

Places I know of that have such a program and provide the fire department based ambulance service are Providence, RI and New London, Ct

I will add, in this area many smaller towns have hired maybe two firefighters to do both jobs as firefighters responding to fire incidents and provide the ambulance service as well.

Here in this city (Norwich, Ct), as well as the majority of Connecticut cities, such as Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, etc., etc., the ambulance service is provided by a private ambulance service. AMR in Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, with American Ambulance Service here.
The pay difference is much LESS for members of those private ambulance companies

My brother-in-law works for one of those private companies and recently he received injuries when he was assaulted by an individual, which included bruises and a broken leg.

I certainly respect all of our ambulance providers for the life saving job they do, sometimes under very dangerous conditions.
 

kidfrmqns

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Unfortunately it's not competitive enough, just last week a Lieutenant I know left at 37 years old to join NYPD as a rookie. When compared to other city jobs and even more so voluntary EMS, we are not able to retain our members. I will admit I've ever been a proponent of equal pay especially EMTs and FFs. I agree our jobs are significantly different and the above point was more a matter of semantics than anything. Perhaps between paramedics and firefighters which are hypothetically both a promotion from EMT there should be more equality, but that isn't far from happening after the most recent contract. That said I think the low pay does suppression a disfavor by enticing members who want nothing to do with firefighting to become firefighters due to the pay increase.
As someone who worked 12 years in the voluntary system I couldn't agree more. I passed up going to NYC*EMS because I was doing so well in the voluntaries. I kick myself everyday for this decision as many of my friends are now retiring with a pension. You don't think about these things when you're young and dumb.
 

memorymaster

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As someone who worked 12 years in the voluntary system I couldn't agree more. I passed up going to NYC*EMS because I was doing so well in the voluntaries. I kick myself everyday for this decision as many of my friends are now retiring with a pension. You don't think about these things when you're young and dumb.
Yes Kid, that is one of the two things the voluntary's do not offer. Promotional ability and pension after 25 years. Well, if you want to call it a pension. I did 20 of my 25 as a Lt. and you'd laugh come the first of the month.
 

mack

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Instead of getting lost comparing the countless different systems in place in other cities, counties and towns which have very different needs and budgets than NYC, go back to the actual NYC lawsuit that was filed (see above article) and think about how FDNY will address this.

The suit, as much as we know of it, uses EEO, specifically race and sex, as the basis of discrimination related to EMS low wages and benefits. It uses FDNY (not other cities) firefighters' pay and benefits as their comparative baseline with a claim that EMS employees are equal in required skill, effort, responsibility, and working conditions. It is enabled by a 2021 city council resolution to pay EMS the same as firefighters without defining specifics or taking follow-up action. There is also a US EEOC investigation.

However, in spite of EMS union, federal agency findings and new legal pressure to increase EMS pay and benefits, this suit has obstacles and is, unfortunately, divisive.

The obvious obstacle is budgetary. Because politicians pander to votes and apparently have had low regard for first responders performing critical emergency duties, EMS pay is what it is - too low. Even the current fire commissioner was involved in the contested 2021 contract. The problem is not new. But dollars to increase EMS pay are limited, to say the least, with NYC struggling from COVID losses and homelessness.

There is also divisiveness with this suit - pitting firefighters against EMTs and medics. Because an EEOC investigation concluded that "workloads, working conditions, training, and risks to EMS first responders and firefighters are comparable, with a substantial degree of overlapping duties, especially with respect to medical emergencies" and the two groups "have comparable accountability and responsibility" does not mean there is agreement from fire personnel.

Instead of debating job skills and duties, maybe we can accept that fire, EMS and police jobs are all vital, dangerous, demanding, taken-for-granted and different. And maybe agree that NYC EMS personnel are underpaid and deserved a pay increase. We can speculate on solutions - how NYC's relatively new and inexperienced leadership (mayor and commissioners) will address the legal suit, continued claims of race and sex discrimination, claims of pay inequities, and difficulties hiring and maintaining EMS, police and dispatchers. Will there be a "quick fix" pay increase solution with EMS or a long-term compensation agreement addressing broader issues? Will any EMS pay increase solve hiring and retention problems? Will a settlement cause a backlash with other NYC unions? In retrospect, was it a mistake to move EMS into FDNY? Can FDNY ever combine firefighter and EMT positions together? Will there be any consideration to move towards privatizing EMS services?

I am not advocating any of the above possibilities, but I do hope that city leadership will do what is right and take care of all city workers who save lives and make a difference every day.
 
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