Methodist Hospital Meal Reduction Case Update

Posted on Feb 18, 2016

Case Update: October 9, 2015

The litigation is still ongoing and we have been successful on various issues. To date, over 200 nurses have joined the lawsuit to recoup their unpaid meal break wages.

Recently, the court granted our motion requesting representative discovery. This means that the court will only require a limited amount of answers to discovery by opt-in plaintiffs. The parties are currently deciding which plaintiffs will have to answer discovery and the questions.

We have served our written discovery requests to the Defendants and are in the process of obtaining electronic copies of pay records and other data that is important to the wage claims. The data will then be sent to our accountant experts to calculate the amount of damages.

We will follow up with individuals regarding discovery as more information is made available to us. 

Case Update: November 14, 2014

nurse at workAccording to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are nearly three-million registered nurses in the United States. That’s three-million people who spend countless hours taking care of patients, soothing their patients’ wounds, and calming down loved ones. They spend every working second putting their patients’ needs and safety above their own. Although most of these caregivers don’t require praise or even commendation for their efforts, it’s obvious that they deserve it. Unfortunately, some employers not only deny them recognition—but go as far as to deny them their fair pay.

The Texas Medical Center’s Methodist Hospital is one such employer, and the pay discrepancy revolves around lunch breaks.

The Lawsuit

Press Kit

Over 50 nurses employed by the Methodist Hospital have come forward citing that the hospital routinely deducts 30 minutes of pay from each day of their shifts as a “lunch break” deduction. However, most of the nurses on staff very rarely get a lunch break as they are responsible for their patients for the entirety of their shifts. No one relieves them, or takes over their patients in order for them to eat. Even though the hospital knows this, it continues to deduct pay no matter if the nurses take a break or not.

Unfortunately for the hospital, this is a blatant opposition to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The Department of Labor guarantees that wages—including overtime—be paid for all time spent in the act of performing one’s work duties. Therefore, if a nurse is taking care of his patient during his break period and never gets a chance to take that 30 minutes of rest, he is entitled to be paid for that time. Just because the hospital finds it easier, more profitable, or more efficient to automatically deduct the lunch period from every nurse’s pay, it does not make it justified nor legal.

This is why Federal Judge Lee Rosenthal has granted Kennedy Hodges approval to pursue a collective action lawsuit against Methodist Hospital on behalf of more than 4,000 affected nurses.

The Fight

Under the FLSA guidelines, employees must be completely relieved of all duties for employers to deduct wages for a meal break. However, the nurses involved in this lawsuit state that it’s almost impossible for them to take completely uninterrupted meal breaks because of their patients’ needs. They can’t just ask their patients to not code, have issues, or need them for a designated amount of time. It just doesn’t work that way.

The lawsuit centers around the fact that nurses are frequently interrupted during their meal times to answer questions, assist doctors, and take calls from other in-house departments. Although they know that their patients come first, and they aren’t upset over missing their lunch periods, they—and the law—believe that they should be paid for their time. 

As stated in a recent news release, "The nurses in this case are not complaining about putting patient safety before meal periods. They are professionals who care for their patients first. They only ask for the hospital to pay them for their meal periods because they continue to be responsible for patient care, and the Hospital knows this." 

If you were employed by Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, Willowbrook, or San Jacinto locations at any time during the period of November 13, 2011 to the present, you may have been a victim of automatic meal time deductions. Contact us today for more information on whether or not you’re eligible for back pay.

According to our records, thousands of nurses have been affected by this injustice, and you may be one of them. Call today to join this claim and get the pay and justice you deserve.

Attorney Kennedy estimates that at least 4,000 nurses now have the right to join this claim for back wages and contends that this violation potentially exists in various other hospital systems nationwide.