Former Pa. ambulance drivers file FLSA suit alleging overtime pay violations

By Jon Campisi | Dec 3, 2012

A handful of former employees of a Chester County-based private ambulance service have

filed a federal lawsuit against the company over allegations that it violated the Fair Labor Standards Act when the defendant failed to properly compensate the plaintiffs for overtime hours worked.

Bensalem, Pa-based employment attorney Ari R. Karpf, of Karpf, Karpf & Cerutti, filed suit Nov. 29 at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on behalf of Brian Cooper, Lester Peak, Curtis Gardner, Charles Richardson and Harry James, all of who reside in Philadelphia and formerly worked for Life Star Ambulance Inc., which is located in West Chester.

The plaintiffs, all of who worked as drivers for the ambulatory service, transporting patients in and around the southeastern Pennsylvania region, claim that the company knowingly and intentionally referred to the plaintiffs as independent contractors, even though the drivers assert they were not, solely in order to avoid paying out state and/or federal overtime wage obligations.

“Even though Plaintiffs and other drivers that were similarly situated to Plaintiffs were switched from being paid hourly to other varying rates of pay (such as unlawful flat rates), Plaintiffs remained employees of Defendant Company as they were still paid by Defendant Company, still wore the same uniform, worked under the same owner, and received reports and assignments from the same dispatcher, as when they worked for Defendant Company,” the complaint reads.

“Despite being called independent contractors by Defendants to avoid state and/or federal wage obligations, Plaintiffs were never independent contractors and continued to operate in the same manner as when they were referred to as employees under the same/similar work schedules.”

The additional defendants named in the lawsuit are Michael Kling, who is identified as the company’s owner and supervisor, and Lee Schwartz, a high-level manager for Life Star.

The suit goes on to claim that throughout their respective employment, the individual plaintiffs often worked 10 to 20 overtime hours per week, but were not properly compensated for the extra time.

The complaint alleges that the defendants continue to perpetuate a system whereby they intentionally failed to abide by overtime laws, which is evidenced by the defendants’ false conversion of employees to flat rates and other forms of varying pay instead of hourly rates to further conceal overtime violations; converting plaintiffs into independent contractors to conceal overtime violations; and failing to keep proper records of all hours worked by the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs seek to have a court order the defendants to be prohibited from continuing their illegal policy.

They also seek compensation for any and all pay and benefits they would have received if not for the company’s alleged illegal actions.

Litigation expenses are also sought as part of the desired judgment.


The federal case number is 2:12-cv-06662-TON. 

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