Calif. Top Court to Weigh in on Ambulance Attendant Wages, Hours

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By Joyce E. Cutler

The California Supreme Court will decide whether ambulance attendants working 24-hour shifts have to be available all the time, even during breaks.

Justices on March 28 agreed to answer several questions posed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit as it deliberates over a case involving an ex-ambulance attendant seeking compensation for meal breaks during his day-long shifts.

The first question: Does California law allow employers to require ambulance attendants on 24-hour shifts to be on call during their rest and meal breaks? If being on call is allowed, are employers required to have a written agreement that allows the worker to revoke that provision? And finally, should ambulance attendants receive premium pay for being on call, even if they’re paid for all 24 hours in their shifts?

The case involves Dylan Stewart, who sued San Luis Ambulance Inc. Stewart said he never missed a break and was paid for all 24 hours while working for the company located on California’s Central Coast. Stewart argues he was entitled under state law for extra pay for being on call during breaks, and his pay statements were inaccurate because he didn’t receive that pay.

The appeals court in December certified the questions to the state high court, saying California courts have been inconsistent in interpreting the state Labor Code on the point. The California Supreme Court didn’t post an oral argument date or briefing schedule.

The case is Stewart v. San Luis Ambulance, Inc., Cal., No. S246255, review granted 3/28/18.

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