Murfreesboro EMT who helped with NYC pandemic response sues for lost wages

    An ambulance picks up a sick patient, (Cavan/Getty Images)
    An ambulance picks up a sick patient. (Cavan/Getty Images)

    An emergency medical technician from Murfreesboro has sued the New York-based company that hired him to drive an ambulance during the city’s pandemic response for lost wages.

    James Richard was hired by Ambulnz, which according to the lawsuit is a subcontractor hired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to respond to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

    Richard claims in the lawsuit that he was on call 24-7 for Ambulnz in April. According to the lawsuit, EMTs were only paid for the hours they were actually in their ambulances responding to emergency calls.

    Ambulnz logo.
    Ambulnz logo.

    Richard was required to work 168 hours per week – 24 hours per day – during his stint in New York. According to the lawsuit, EMTs were scheduled for 12-hour shifts, but required to be on-call at all times.Je

    New York was the focal point of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States and, according to the lawsuit, at least one paramedic hired by Ambulnz died after contracting during his time working there.

    Richard is represented by Nashville attorney Jonathan Street, who filed the suit Friday.

    “Despite their assigned shift schedules, Ambulnz required Plaintiff and similarly situated EMTs and paramedics to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the duration of their deployment,” the lawsuit states. 

    Ambulnz said through a spokesman on Tuesday that it verified its compensation practices for the pandemic response with two separate law firms.

    “Both of these firms confirmed that our payroll practices exceeded the amount required by law,” the company said in its statement. “We are completely confident in the rightness of our position, and believe this lawsuit is without merit. Ambulnz remains extremely proud of its team for their efforts serving the residents of New York City in its hour of need, and looks forward to being fully vindicated in this matter.”

    Richard claimed in the lawsuit that he and other EMTS were required to stay in their assigned hotel rooms at all times or face discipline, including suspension or termination.

    Ambulnz required Plaintiff and similarly-situated EMTs and paramedics to remain in their hotel rooms at all times when not on shift, at a worksite, or in transit to/from a worksite. If they did not remain in their hotel rooms, Plaintiff and similarly-situated EMTs and paramedics faced removal from deployment, suspension, and/or termination.

    “To ensure that Plaintiff and similarly-situated EMTs and paramedics did not leave their hotel rooms, Ambulnz employed or otherwise utilized a security guard posted in the hotel lobby and further required Plaintiff and similarly-situated EMTs and paramedics to carry GPS tracking phones at all times to monitor their whereabouts,” the lawsuit states.

    Richard filed the class action lawsuit in New York state court, alleging that other EMTs are in the same boat and also are entitled to lost wages.

    Ambulnz sent a comment on Tuesday from Nashville-based paramedic Braddley Hughes, who called the class action lawsuit “frivolous.”

    “Ambulnz did an incredible job taking care of its employees on this challenging assignment, providing us with ample PPE, room and board, and excellent compensation,” Hughes said in the emailed statement. “My colleagues and I are grateful for the opportunity to have been of service, and sad that a few bad apples are trying to tarnish what we achieved for their own selfish motives.”