The issue of wage theft in hospitals was highlighted in two recent lawsuits against hospitals in Chicago and Florida. Each lawsuit alleged overtime violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), claiming that workers were not compensated for pre-shift work or when they worked through meal breaks.
An $850,000 settlement was reached in a wage theft lawsuit against NorthShore University HealthSystem, a Chicago-area hospital network, for wage theft claims. The lawsuit claimed that certain policies at the hospitals deprived Patient Access Representatives (entry-level hourly employees who help patients make appointments, schedule tests and answer questions) of overtime pay. The patient representatives were required to begin working prior to their shift but were not compensated for those pre-shift activities. The hospitals forbid employees from clocking in more than seven-minute before the start of their scheduled shift and maintained a time-keeping system that rounded time to the nearest 15-minute increment. As a result, the representatives were not paid for their overtime hours.
A second wage theft case against Flager Hospital, based in St. Augustine, Florida, settled for $107,185 in back wages to 141 employees. The settlement resulted from an investigation by the United States Department of Labor, who claimed that Flager Hospital automatically deducted time from emergency room and labor and delivery employees’ timecards for meal breaks even when they worked through those breaks. This unpaid work time resulted in overtime being due when it occurred in workweeks longer than 40 hours. By improperly deducting the time, the employer also produced inaccurate records of the number of hours employees actually worked, violating FLSA recordkeeping requirements.
The FLSA and many state laws require that all non-exempt employees, such as the entry-level patent access representatives, be paid at a rate of time-and-a-half (or 1.5x their regular rate of pay) for all the hours they work over 40 in a week. Due to the unlawful record keeping and meal deductions, the hospital employees in both lawsuits were not paid their full wages in accordance with the law. If you work in a health care institution and believe that you have been cheated out of your wages, please call the attorneys at Pechman Law Group at 212-583-9500 for a free consultation.