Hurricane Disaster Relief Workers May be Owed Significant Overtime

Now that Hurricane Florence is over, many companies are hiring disaster relief workers and emergency service workers to help with the clean up and recovery process after the devastation. As is common with most hurricanes, a couple of weeks after they are over, the hard work begins. Billions of dollars’ worth of remediation and restoration take place and these hired relief workers have a wide array of job duties that range from filing and processing insurance claims to digging ditches to installing power lines. These emergency service workers are usually paid a day rate for their services and are often treated as independent contractors.

However, what most emergency service workers often don’t realize is that they may be entitled to an hourly rate as opposed to a day rate. Additionally, when working over 40 hours in a week, a common occurrence for relief workers during the aftermath of a natural disaster, they may also be entitled to earn overtime pay at time and a half their regular hourly rate. Often times these workers are hired as independent contractors, so companies can avoid paying them in accordance with the labor laws such as the Federal Labor Standards Act (FLSA). By paying emergency service workers a day rate without taking into consideration all of their hours worked in a week, these hard-working employees are being shorted their rightfully earned wages under the FLSA.

Affected job titles may include:

  • Disaster Relief Workers
  • Emergency Management Specialists
  • Recovery Workers
  • Disaster Recovery Workers
  • Fire Restoration Workers
  • Temporary Field Supervisors
  • Measurement Technicians
  • Quality Assurance Inspectors
  • Demolition Laborers
  • Linemen
  • Operations Changeover

There have been several day rate lawsuits for unpaid wages filed against disaster recovery firms by emergency service workers after the recent hurricanes such as Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria. In fact, many disaster relief workers who helped after these hurricanes may still be entitled to recover unpaid overtime. Workers often work 12-hour days, 7 days per week without the appropriate pay. If you’ve worked as an emergency service worker during the last several hurricane seasons, you may have a claim. As hurricane season arrives in full swing, keep your rights in mind. Call us at (212) 300-0375 for a free phone consultation to see if you may have a claim. You can also visit our website here for additional information.