A California Superior Court Judge in Alameda County has approved a settlement to have a medical helicopter company pay $78 million to members of its flight crews. The employees say they did not receive overtime pay or proper meal and rest breaks under California law. Specifically, the helicopter company was accused of failing to pay daily overtime wages to employees who worked more than eight hours in a workday, and the company was accused of denying off-duty meal and rest breaks to employees.
The judge’s approval in the wage dispute comes three months after an agreement by Air Methods Corporation to settle a class action lawsuit filed by the workers. The judgment also requires the Colorado-based company to begin paying flight workers in California for overtime and missed meal and rest breaks. This will result in a 20% pay increase for flight crew employees.
Air Methods is one of the country’s leading providers of medical services via helicopter. The company maintains bases of operations in several states and transports paramedics and nurses to difficult-to-reach locations where people need emergency medical care.
A statement from the company agreed that a change in pay and break practices was necessary. The company indicated that the changes would benefit the employees and ultimately the people they serve. A company spokesperson said that the changes include an increase in the amount of uninterrupted sleep time for aircrews, compliance with overtime laws in California, and uninterrupted meal and rest periods to facilitate worker comfort and safety.
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