Transdev Services, which operated the Charm City Circulator until October, paid $160,000 this week to settle a lawsuit alleging that the company and its predecessor, Veolia Transportation Services, underpaid five paratransit drivers, who took Medicaid recipients to appointments in Baltimore under a city contract.
In the lawsuit, the drivers, who worked for subcontractor Davi Transportation, said they worked shifts as long as 15 hours but were denied overtime, paid only a few dollars for each pick-up and paid only one dollar each time a passenger was a no-show.
“As a result,” the complaint says, “plaintiffs’ hourly wages fell far below state and federal minimum wage rates, even farther below Baltimore City’s living wage rates, and sometimes below $4 per hour.”
The city’s Living Wage Ordinance requires all city contractors to be paid no less than $11.81 per hour.
“It wasn’t right,” said Trekell Gaither, one of the plaintiff drivers, in a statement released by the Public Justice Center. “When you did the math, it came to $4 or $5 an hour. No one can afford to live on that, not in this city anyway.”
Transdev, which settled the suit without admitting liability Wednesday, could not be reached for comment.
David Rodwin, an attorney with the Public Justice Center, said the settlement should prompt city agencies to review their contracts — and make sure the employees working on those contracts are being paid as required.
“People who work and are getting city money shouldn’t be getting poverty wages,” Rodwin said. “This calls attention to the need for the city to pay a little bit closer attention to how these contracts are playing out in reality.”
The city Department of Transportation did not respond to a request for comment.
Gaither and the other drivers in the suit, Whitney Davis, Wayne Flemming, Crystal Kendricks and Robert Lemon, will receive a collective $130,000, according to the settlement.
The Public Justice Center will receive $20,000 and the law firm Outten & Golden, which assisted with the lawsuit, will receive $10,000 in lawyers’ fees, according to the settlement.
Transdev lost the Charm City Circulator contract to Bethesda-based RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation in October amid a city lawsuit claiming Transdev had overbilled Baltimore $20,000 for thousands of hours during which the free bus service was not operating since 2010.
The Circulator had a bumpy transition to the new RMA Worldwide management, which temporarily suspended some service with little notice in its first week while it tested its buses for safety.