Only a few months after 911 operators reported being "burned out," overworked and undertrained at city emergency dispatch centers, workers are filing a class action suit against the city, claiming they've been forced to work consecutive 16-hour shifts, have difficulty obtaining family leave time and are collapsing from exhaustion on the job.
The NY Post reports that the workers have filed a lawsuit in Brooklyn Supreme Court alleging that their supervisors put them on mandatory double shifts that start at 11 p.m. and end at 3 p.m.; the shifts are often back-to-back, and the suit alleges that several "operators have collapsed from exhaustion while dispatching calls and were removed from the Metrotech Center by paramedics."
"Plaintiffs work in a demanding, high stress environment where every call counts and can be the difference, literally, between life and death,” the suit alleges. “This schedule threatens not only the health of individual operators but all those who depend on the city’s emergency response system.” The suit names Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly as defendants, along with a number of high-ranking NYPD officers who oversee the call center employees
Operators say their supervisors threaten to cut their vacation days if they refuse to take on the double shifts, and they allege they have difficulty taking family leave time and sick leave if they need it. One plaintiff was allegedly rushed to a hospital in September after suffering from exhaustion, and the suit claims that supervisors—who are predominantly white, while the workers are predominantly black and Hispanic—have been tampering with employees' time sheets to keep them from clocking in and out. The suit caps off a rough year for the 911 program, which has suffered a series of glitches and accusations of incompetency this year, and underwent an $88 million overhaul in May.