CareMeridian Nurses Seek Class Action in Overtime Suit

by Norman B. Blumenthal on November 8, 2017

blumenthal nordrehaug & bhowmik, southern california employment law, southern california employment law attorneys, overtime, overtime suit, overtime lawsuit, class action overtime, class action overtime suit, class action overtime lawsuit In September 2017, McKenzie Erwin, RN, filed an overtime lawsuit on behalf of herself and other non-exempt employees similarly situated with CareMeridian, LLC (CareMeridian) and Mentor Management, Inc. (Mentor), another company involved with the situation. The defendants (CareMeridian and Mentor) in the unpaid overtime lawsuit operate skilled nursing facilities in various locations in California. According to the complaint, CareMeridian and Mentor violated California Labor Code by engaging in a pattern of conduct that was not only unfair, but was unlawful and constituted deceptive business practice.

This particular lawsuit is not focused around the misclassification of workers. In many overtime lawsuits the main question becomes whether or not a worker was misclassified as professional or managerial employees when they should actually be protected by overtime laws. What the court has to determine in these cases is whether the employee at hand is exempt from overtime laws or not. But in this case, the main issue is different than the norm.

The main focus in this overtime class action is the questioning of corporate decisions encouraging managers to act in certain ways that would purposefully deprive their workers of their legal protections. As such, many are concluding that this case is far more nitty-gritty than the typical overtime case and focuses on the mundane and sometimes dirty little details of real life.

According to the federal FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), the majority of nurses would not actually be eligible for overtime due to their advanced training and scientific knowledge – both of which are requirements in their particular profession. But California Labor Law is a different matter. Outside of student nurses, the majority of California nurses are eligible for overtime pay even when they are functioning in positions that include some job duties that fall into managerial and administrative categories.

But both federal and state law regulating the matter doesn’t quite cover the issue when it comes to nursing. If you know a nurse, you’ve probably heard the issues discussed: they’re often overworked, frequently overscheduled, always tired and sadly, underpaid.

The complaint filed in this case outlines a routine management practice of not providing enough labor hours for employees on the job to complete the tasks they are assigned. Nurses frequently had to skip legally mandated meal periods and breaks or work off the clock before or after their shift so that they would complete assigned duties. It was a high-pressure situation because the lives of patients depend on the nurses and the care they are providing. It is alleged that the company regularly rounded down when counting hours, miscounted hours, and provided inaccurate wage statements. Nurses also claimed the company failed to reimburse employees for required business expenses.

Employees represented in the class include those previously employed by either CareMeridian or Mentor for the four year period predating the date of the original complaint, but a win for the nurses in this case could help California establish a precedent that would bring relief to employees bullied into setting aside their rights for the good of the people their work serves.

If you have questions about overtime class action suits or if you need to discuss what laws protect your right to overtime pay, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.

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