Home Health Aides Seek Class Action Status in Overtime Lawsuit
A band of home health aides in Illinois is seeking to add more people to a lawsuit claiming their employer wrongly denied them overtime pay.
Home health clinician Laura Byrne and three other plaintiffs this month sought class certification in a case against Centegra Health System, a network of four hospitals, physician care locations and specialty services providers, including home health, based in Crystal Lake, Illinois. The workers seek to be paid time-and-a-half for work outside of their normal 40-hour week, as first reported by Law360.
The employees, who include registered nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists, are currently paid on a “per visit” and “hourly” structure, meaning they’re only compensated for home visits or on an hourly basis.
But the workers claim they were wrongfully classified as exempt from the overtime compensation requirements of the The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)—the federal statue that governs the minimum wage, overtime pay, and other standards for workers—and the Illinois Minimum Wage Law (IMWL).
“This hybrid ‘per visit’ and ‘hourly basis’ pay scheme does not comport with either the salaried basis or the fee basis requirements of the FLSA or the IMWL,” reads a Jan. 3 complaint obtained by Home Health Care News. “Accordingly, Defendant cannot meet its burden of establishing Plaintiffs are exempt and have wrongly deprived Plaintiffs of earned overtime compensation in violation of the FLSA and IMWL.”
In February, Centegra answered the complaint by denying the workers’ claims.
An Illinois federal court must now weigh in on the class certification.
At odds over overtime
The lawsuit comes amid a long fight over overtime pay for home care workers in Illinois. In January, the state’s governor, Bruce Rauner, vetoed a bill that would have prohibited Illinois from limiting the number of weekly hours worked by individual providers.
And this isn’t the first time home health workers have sought class action cases against their employers, either.
Employees at Humana in February sought class certification in Connecticut federal court on a claim that they were wrongfully shorted overtime pay while working for one of the company’s subsidiaries. Humana opposed the certification, saying the employees’ arguments were built in part with flawed factual assumptions. A New York magistrate judge shut down a similar lawsuit’s request for class action certification last August.
Earlier this month, home health industry organizations made a renewed push to overturn the overtime and minimum wage coverage protections granted to home care workers in 2015. Those protections impacted roughly two million home care workers and rocked many home health providers.
Written by Tim Regan