Frequently Asked Nurse and Healthcare Worker Questions

Have questions about your legal matter and are afraid to ask? If so, head on over to our FAQ section in which we tackle a variety of important topics that matter to you. Find answers to questions regarding car accidents, medical malpractice, unpaid overtime, and a variety of other legal subjects that may be affecting you. 
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  • I work as a phlebotomist at a local hospital, and am responsible for drawing blood for all patients in the children’s wing. Since I make more than $455 per week, my employer said that I am not entitled to overtime as a healthcare employee in Texas, even though I usually work 45 hours per week. Is he correct?

    While making $455 is one of the conditions that must be met for an employer to exempt you from overtime in the healthcare field, it sounds like you would probably not meet the other three criteria that we have previously discussed on this site. So the answer is: No, you should not be exempt from overtime.

    The Texas overtime attorneys see cases like yours on a regular basis. We know that phlebotomists do not have an easy job, especially in the children’s’ wing of the hospital, where many patients are probably terrified of needles and getting their blood drawn. But since your job typically does not require you to consistently exercise judgment and discretion about those blood draws, or their results, you are not meeting one of the most important criteria for exemption.

    This also means that you are missing out on quite a bit of money each paycheck. For example, if you are making $15 per hour, but are misclassified as exempt from overtime, you are missing out on $37.50 each week. That may not seem like much money to some people, but it adds up to nearly $2,000 per year.

    Don’t let your employer’s misclassification be the reason why your paycheck suffers. Call Kennedy Hodges at today 888.449.2068. We will gladly answer any questions that you have – for free – and even give you a free copy of our book on overtime claims in Texas.

  • Will I be fired for asking why I am not paid overtime as a Houston nurse?

    Technically, only your employer can answer that question. As experienced Texas overtime attorneys who see on a daily basis the frustration unpaid overtime can cause, we certainly hope that your employer would not send you permanently out the door for simply asking for an explanation. 

    What we can tell you is that if your employer does fire you for asking about overtime, chances are they are breaking the law. 

    The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that all non-exempt employees covered under the Act be paid one and a half times their normal hourly rate for all hours over 40 worked during one week. If you are considered exempt from overtime, your employer must give you an explanation on why they chose that exemption for you and also back it up with facts that prove you should be exempt. There are certain criteria that must be met in order for the exemption to be legal, but if even one requirement is only met a portion of the time, the exemption is void. 

    Since even the U.S. Department of Labor believes that nurses are rarely exempt from the FLSA and, therefore, overtime, it is definitely worth discussing your situation with an attorney if you are a Houston nurse not receiving overtime pay.  

    That’s where Kennedy Hodges comes in. We are available to analyze your situation in a confidential and complimentary consultation and will be happy to provide you with the tools you will need to ensure future overtime pay. Call us today at 888-449-2068 or fill out our online form, and we will also send you a free copy of our book, Ten Biggest Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Wage and Overtime Claim.

  • I provide in-home care for elderly patients, but my employer tells me I am exempt form overtime under the companionship exemption. Is this true?

    If you are an in-home caregiver you may have heard of the companionship exemption in the Fair Labor Standards Act

    Home health workers provide important services to the elderly and infirm, but currently, many home care providers earn less than minimum wage and no overtime pay.

    If you work as a professional in-home caregiver for a healthcare company you may have heard of the companionship exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

    In 1974, the FLSA was changed to include an overtime exemption for domestic service workers, but this also created the companionship services exemption, exempting in-home care workers from receiving overtime pay. This is an exemption that many home care workers are classified under, yet it is not necessarily applied correctly.

    Congress recently proposed a change to the law and if enacted, the proposal would extend coverage of minimum wage and overtime pay to professional caregivers. The proposal would cover almost 2 million in-home caregivers.

    Call our employment lawyers to determine if you’ve been misclassified in the healthcare industry. We have represented many clients, including nurses, in wage and overtime claims nationwide.

    Read more: New White House proposal would extend minimum wage, overtime to 2 million in-home caregivers

  • If I refuse to work overtime, can the hospital I work for fire me?

    Seven more minutes. Seven more minutes and you get to go home. Today has been absolutely grueling. From the moment you stepped foot on the floor you’ve been running around like a chicken with its head cut off. You’ve performed six skin biopsies, taken over 20 vitals, started a dozen IVs, and discharged close to 30 patients. You were able to grab a few bites of your sandwich in between blood draws, but you’ve been running at full speed for the last eight hours.Five more minutes.

    You finish writing up your reports and double checking clinical sheets—making sure everything is done.

    Three minutes.

    You sign your reports and make sure you pop in to say goodnight to all of your patients.

    One minute.

    You make your way down the hall to the staff locker room, when your boss stops you. She tells you that the night shift is understaffed and that she would appreciate it if you could stay for another four hours. You tell her that you’re absolutely exhausted and that you would prefer to go home and get some rest before your next shift. She responds by telling you that if she has to she’ll mandate the shift. However, if you volunteer now then she’ll remember the gesture, but if you refuse, she’ll remember that as well—especially during reviews.

    What are you supposed to do? You can barely see straight but your boss is basically threatening you if you don’t stay. Do you have to work mandatory overtime (OT)? What will happen if you refuse?

    Consequences of Refusing Overtime

    On a daily basis, nurses are asked if they would like to stay beyond their eight-hour shifts, or willingly volunteer to stay over for overtime. Depending on their employer’s discretion, they are either granted OT hours or not, but either way it is up to the nurse decide whether or not she wishes to work. Occasionally, emergency situations arise where units are understaffed, the workload is underestimated, or patients arrive late, requiring employees to stay to accommodate the workload. However, these situations are still volunteer-based and no matter what your employer tells you, they aren’t considered mandatory.

    The Safe Hospitals Staffing Law, which prohibits hospitals from requiring nurses to work overtime, went into effect on September 1, 2009. Therefore, with the exception of working during extreme cases such as natural disasters and outbreaks—mandating, threatening, or pressuring you into working overtime is illegal. The law also states that:

    • Hospitals may no longer require registered nurses (RNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) to work mandatory overtime. This doesn’t include home healthcare or nursing home nurses.
    • Nurses are authorized to refuse to work mandatory overtime.
    • Hospitals are prohibited from using on-call time as a substitute for mandatory overtime. 
    • Allows nurses to have the option of volunteering to work overtime

    Stopping OT Persecution

    Although it is illegal for your employer to require you to work past your shift, some employers may try to intimidate you into volunteering by threatening job, shifts, workload, and even your promotional aspirations. Not only is this illegal, but it is truly bad form. If you believe that your employer has threatened or forced you to work overtime, or has punished you for refusing to work OT, contact us today.

    Our vast experience and knowledge with overtime law can help you fight back and get the justice, compensation, and respect you deserve. Call now!

    Need more information about your OT rights? Request our free book, 10 Biggest Mistakes that can Hurt Your Wage and Overtime Claim, or feel free to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus for periodic updates and advice.