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Dinges v. Sacred Heart St. Mary's Hospitals, Inc.

164 F.3d 1056 (1999)

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Dinges v. Sacred Heart St. Mary’s Hospitals, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

164 F.3d 1056 (1999)

Facts

Garrett Dinges and Christine Foster (plaintiffs) were employed as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) by Sacred Heart St. Mary’s Hospitals, Incorporated (Sacred Heart) (defendant) in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. Sacred Heart used an on-call system to meet its needs for EMTs. There was a first-out crew and a second-out crew. The first-out crew had to arrive at the hospital within seven minutes of being contacted; the second-out crew had 15 minutes to arrive. Notably, the entire city spanned only a seven-minute radius. Both Dinges and Foster were on first-out crews and lived within a seven-minute drive of the hospital. On-call periods lasted from 14 to 16 hours. First-out crew members were paid $2.25 per hour for on-call time. First-out crews received an average of 0.65 calls per on-call period. Dinges and Foster were subject to some restrictions on what they could do during their on-call time. They were unable to travel outside the city during the on-call periods. They could not enjoy most recreational activities like hunting or fishing. Nor were they allowed to drink alcohol or participate in activities that precluded the effective use of a pager. Foster needed a babysitter on hand during her on-call period in case she was called in. However, on-call EMTs were able to engage in many activities within the vicinity of their homes such as cooking, eating, sleeping, and housework. They could also shop and run errands within the city limits. Foster was able to go to local events in the city like her children’s sporting events and dance recitals. Dinges and Foster brought a claim against Sacred Heart for recovery of premium pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The district court entered judgment in favor of Sacred Heart. Dinges and Foster appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Easterbrook, J.)

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