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AMR Lays Off Moonlighters

A Dozen of More Given Notice

AMERICAN MEDICAL RESPONSE AMBULANCE Service's Bridgeport, Connecticut, division has recently given warnings to about a dozen or more of their medics to cease working part-time for their competitors.  Citing a contract provision that specifies that their employees cannot work for their competitiors, several medics were told to either resign from Danbury Ambulance and Valley Emergency Medical Services, or they will be let go from AMR.  Working as volunteers on local volunteer squads is permitted.

AMR is stretching the definition of "competitor" by including Danbury and VEMS because they had bid against AMR in past contract proposals.  This expanded definition caught many AMR medics by surprise and now they are caught between the proverbial rock and hard spot.

The Danbury News Times reported:

Joseph Desimone, president and chief executive officer of Danbury Ambulance, said late Friday, he was surprised at the move by AMR.  "I'm hoping they change their mind," he said. "I'm not sure what advantage AMR would have not allowing people to work for their organization. If anything, they won't be able to provide the kind of coverage as they have in the past."

He added that the emergency services community is small, and there often aren't a lot of certified paramedics to go around. And many, he said, work second jobs to make ends meet.

"These people are working other jobs because they need to," Desimone said. "Now they're being put at a disadvantage."

The News Times continues:  A memo sent to the affected employees Sept. 5 by Bill Schietenger, manager of AMR's Bridgeport division, said the company considers VEMS a competitor "since it submitted a bid against AMR in our service area.

"As you are aware, a memo was posted in Operations regarding the company's stance of our employees working for competitors," he said.  "I will need official word from you in writing on your decision of employment by 4 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10. If I do not hear from you by 4 p.m., I will consider that your voluntary resignation from AMR."

Firegeezer observes that Schietenger might have "stepped in it" by appearing to be making an attempt to circumvent Workmen's Comp. laws to force a resignation in order to avoid unemployment compensation payouts.  That will probably be brought out because several of the affected medics have engaged a labor attorney to file a complaint.

The Hartford Courant adds:

Bob Petinella, the executive director of the VEMS said, "We've done well in the past few years and we've decided to expand. Our position is that the folks we employ are professionals and they can work for whoever they want. We're not going to affect their ability to work or to earn income, and we trust that when they are working for VEMS they represent our best interests."

New Haven lawyer Irving Pinsky said he has been retained by some of the paramedics suspended by AMR, and that he is preparing a lawsuit on their behalf, citing the state's Unfair Trade Practices Act. The employees are not unionized, Pinsky said.

"I'm still in the investigation stage, but from what I'm told, these people are being prevented from working," Pinsky said. "Their careers and income options are being limited in violation of the law."

Read the full story in the News Times HERE.
The Hartford Courant has MORE.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Dal90

    It’s not unemployment concerns — first, unemployment won’t pay that much if since any part-time income they have would count against it; second the statement by one of the competitors that there is a shortage of medics would indicate anyone not working at least full-time is doing so voluntarily and therefore isn’t eligible for unemployment. (The medic could counter that they’ve applied and haven’t been offered fulltime work, but you get the point — there’s no reason to try and avoid Unemployment Insurance implications because the money involved is very small).

    What the medic’s attorney is looking at is Unfair Trade Practice — I’m just not certain (and the attorney may not be either) whether it’s a restraint of trade of the competitors, or restraint of trade of the licensed professionals (Paramedics). It’s an interesting theory to see how he fleshes it out.

    If you had management employees involved — folks with access to the numbers, then absolutely I see the conflict. Front line medics and supervisors who handle professional standards & training issues though it’s much harder to argue there is a business conflict.

    (Also, there are very few Paramedic level volunteer agencies in Connecticut, so most AMR employees who volunteer would drop down to an EMT-B level of care at their volunteer service.)