Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT) drivers serve a critical and often overlooked role in our communities: they drive the neediest patients—many of whom are elderly, disabled, or otherwise lack community supports—to their medical appointments to ensure that these patients get the critical health care services they need. Often, these drivers do so at the expense of their own health and welfare, working more than ten-hour shifts at wages that fall far below those required by the law. This practice is unsustainable and against the law.
In 2017, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, along with Public Citizen Litigation Group, filed suit on behalf of a class of these workers against Medical Transportation Management, Inc. (MTM), a company that provides NEMT services to Washington, D.C. residents under a lucrative $85 million contract with the District. In this lawsuit, named plaintiffs Isaac Harris, Darnell Frye, and Leo Franklin assert that MTM should be held responsible as at least a joint employer for unpaid minimum wages, overtime wages, and living wages for over 1,000 drivers under federal and D.C. law. The named plaintiffs seek to represent a class of drivers who have worked under MTM’s contract with D.C. within the past three years.
The complaint alleges that MTM requires the drivers to complete all trips to which they are assigned, often requiring long workdays, but pays the drivers only a flat rate per week or per trip, regardless of the hours each driver works. These practices combine to result in drivers generally receiving effective hourly wages of between $4.00 and $9.00.
Notwithstanding these troublingly low wage rates, the drivers continue to complete their daily trips because they care for the patients they transport; without these drivers, patients would be stranded and would be unable to get the medical care they need. Isaac Harris, one of the plaintiffs in the proposed class action suit, said: “Even though the days were long and tiring, I know that the work I did as an NEMT driver was vital to serving members of my community that often need our help the most. But by denying us the wages we are owed, MTM is acting with a blatant disregard for our wellbeing, despite all of the time and effort we have dedicated to working for MTM. We as drivers all share the same compassion for the job, and all that we ask is that MTM act responsibly in paying us the wages we are owed just as we perform our jobs as NEMT drivers responsibly. No employer should be able to take advantage of its workers by paying them less than the minimum wage. By standing up to MTM, I’m standing up for other workers here in the District and around the country.”
“It is a cruel irony that drivers who help low-income Washingtonians get access to the medical care they need are themselves impoverished by MTM paying them for only a fraction of the time they work,” said Joseph M. Sellers, Partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the suit. “We trust that this lawsuit will bring a measure of justice to the drivers and force MTM to pay them as the law requires.”
NEMT drivers who worked under MTM’s contract with D.C. between July 13, 2014 and the present, whether also employed by a subcontractor or not, are eligible to participate in this lawsuit. If you are interested in joining the lawsuit, please complete the Opt-In Form (also posted under the Case Document Files menu) and return it to the address at the bottom of the form.
No drivers will be required to pay to participate in this lawsuit. The case will be handled on a contingency basis, whereby attorneys’ fees will be paid only if the lawsuit is successful in obtaining relief through a settlement, final judgment, or other award.
It is against the law for a company to retaliate against an employee or former employee for joining a lawsuit for unpaid wages. If you suffer retaliation, you may be able to assert additional claims.
If you have any questions or information about MTM or the wage issues in this case, please contact Joseph Sellers or Miriam Nemeth at 202-408-4600 or Michael Kirkpatrick or Patrick Llewellyn of Public Citizen Litigation Group at 202-588-1000.