Unpaid Overtime Lawsuit OK’d for Class Action Status

A lawsuit claiming that Midwestern home health care provider SSM Health at Home, formerly known as SSM Home Care, owes some of its caregivers unpaid overtime wages can move forward as a class action case, a district judge ruled. SSM Health at Home’s parent company, SSM Health, is a health care system based in St. Louis that owns 18 hospitals, two nursing homes, a physician network and medical services such as home health and hospice. The system employs more than 33,000 people.

Plaintiff Christina Mayberry alleged in a 2015 suit that she and other hourly home health care workers employed by SSM in Missouri, Illinois and Oklahoma worked “off the clock” without pay. Mayberry is seeking to recover those unpaid wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Missouri Minimum Wage Law.

Judge Carol Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri approved the class action status on May 30, according to court documents. Under the ruling, the case can include “all current and former hourly-paid home health care workers employed at any time within the last three years at defendant’s St. Louis and St. Louis West branch locations.” 

The St. Louis Record, a Missouri legal publication, first reported on the lawsuit.

Mayberry—along with plaintiffs Cleo Mayfield, Janice Tainter and Rhonda McKinnon—claimed that SSM paid them hourly as licensed practical nurses but did not compensate them for essential duties before and after their shifts.

The plaintiffs routinely filled out charts and completed patient reports at home and off-the-clock, the lawsuit alleges. The plaintiffs also submitted paperwork corroborating their claims, according to the court document.

A representative for SSM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Many home health workers have pursued class action cases against their employers since overtime and minimum wage coverage protections went into effect in 2015.

In April, a band of home health aides sought class certification in a similar unpaid labor 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.

And employees at Humana in February sought class certification in Connecticut federal court on a claim they were wrongfully shorted overtime pay while working for one of the company’s subsidiaries. Humana opposed the certification in that case, arguing the employees’ case was built, in part, with flawed factual assumptions.

Written by Tim Regan

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Tim Regan
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