First Responders Can Get Overtime, but Boss Can’t

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By Jon Steingart

Sept. 23 — A former head of an ambulance service for a town in New Jersey isn’t entitled to overtime pay, a federal judge ruled ( Hudson v. Absecon Emergency Servs., Inc. , 2016 BL 313096, D.N.J., No. 1:14-cv-06419, 9/22/16 ).

Richard Hudson sued Absecon Emergency Services because he “received the same amount of compensation regardless” of whether he worked more than 40 hours in a week, Judge Renée Marie Bumb of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey said Sept. 22. Hudson is exempt from overtime eligibility because of “his status as an executive employee,” Bumb ruled.

First responders are specifically entitled to overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and Hudson worked for a first responder organization. He is exempt, though, because his primary duty at Absecon EMS was “managerial work,” not “front-line first responder work,” Bumb said.

Overtime for First Responder Executives?

Employees are generally entitled to overtime when they work more than 40 hours in a week unless they satisfy one of the tests for exemption. Department of Labor regulations say someone isn’t entitled to overtime if his salary and duties meet certain criteria.

One exemption covers employees who earn $455 per week, and both sides agreed Hudson’s pay satisfied the salary test for exemption. At issue was whether his work satisfied the duties test, which examines whether someone manages an enterprise’s operations and people. For example, one of the duties test criteria is whether someone directs the work of others.

In a deposition, Hudson said he was responsible for overall operations at Absecon EMS. He was in charge of deciding which equipment to procure so the service could accomplish its goals, and he issued employee discipline when necessary.

First responders, such as paramedics and emergency medical technicians, and a few other professions, enjoy a unique status in that the regulations specify that they can’t be exempted from overtime. This case presented a possibility for friction with those regulations, as someone who might be ineligible for overtime because he’s an executive nevertheless might seem to be entitled to it because of his first responder status.

That possible conflict doesn’t mean that “anyone who works in affiliation” with first responders gets overtime, Bumb said. Hudson might be eligible for overtime if he were involved in managing personnel on the scene of an emergency, she said.

But that’s not what he did. Hudson managed the enterprise so Absecon EMS could deploy emergency medical technicians. As a manager, he wasn’t eligible for overtime, Bumb said.

Attorneys for Hudson and Absecon EMS didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Sept. 23.

Jenna Cook of Linwood, N.J., represented Hudson. Christina Saveriano and Suzanne Marasco of Hill Wallack LLP in Princeton, N.J., represented Absecon EMS.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jon Steingart in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at

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