Are you a nurse not being paid overtime or a healthcare professional being cheated out of your wages?

nursesAccording to a survey by the American Nursing Association, more than 66% of nurses are working some form of mandatory or unplanned overtime each month. These nurses and healthcare professionals frequently are deprived of the pay to which they are lawfully entitled. They are required to work long hours through lunches and breaks and even off the clock. Many of them are "on call" through the evening and on weekends, leaving them little or no time to enjoy their lives outside of work. The labor law violations in healthcare professions can be substantial, and need to be stopped.

If you are a nurse or healthcare professional and have been deprived of the wages to which you are lawfully entitled, then you are eligible to order a copy of 10 Biggest Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Wage & Overtime Claim for FREE. Written by the unpaid wages lawyers at Kennedy Hodges L.L.P., this book contains the information your employer doesn't want you to know.

Being paid a salary does not by itself mean that you lose your right to overtime pay.

Many employers try to lead their employees to believe that if they are salaried workers, then they are exempt, and not entitled to receive overtime pay.

This simply is not true!

Even if you are paid on a salary, you may be entitled to receive overtime. In fact, most nurses are entitled to overtime pay. If you are a type of nurse, such as a registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN) who is paid on an hourly basis, the chances are very likely that you are eligible to receive overtime pay.   Certain types of advanced practice nurses such as certified midwives, certified nurse anesthetists, and certified nurse practitioners are sometimes classified as professional employees and therefore as exempt; however, even these nurses are not always exempt from overtime pay. The answer depends upon the particular facts of your case.

Learned Professional Exemption

As a starting point, every employee is entitled to overtime pay unless and until the employer can prove the employee fits perfectly into one of the exemption categories. Employers often try to fit a round peg into a square hole by claiming nurses fall under the learned professional exemption. What's worse is that some nurses consider this label a badge of honor and let their egos get in the way of their financial interest.

Employers often fail in establishing that nurses meet the learned professional exemption because they can't prove one or more of these requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act:

  • The employee was compensated on a salary basis or a fee basis at a rate not less than $455 per week
  • The employee's primary duty must be the performance of work requiring advanced knowledge, defined as work which is predominately intellectual in character and which includes work requiring the consistent exercise of discretion and judgment
  • The advanced knowledge must be in a field of science or learning
  • The advanced knowledge must be customarily acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction.
Employers who classify nurses as exempt typically do so based upon two facts: the employee is a nurse and the employee is paid a salary or on a fee basis. That's a mistake that often leads to misclassification and substantial amounts of back wages owed. Requirements (b) (c) and (d) above must be thoroughly examined as well. Many nurses often perform a series of jobs which are repeated over and over again. The circumstances arising from such treatment, while varying somewhat from patient to patient, are predictable. So, for example, a registered nurse whose work responsibility primarily consists of linking a dialysis patient to a dialysis machine and keeping watch over their condition is likely not exempt.

Mixed Pay

If you are a nurse who's paid on an hourly basis, you are almost certainly owed overtime pay when you work more than 40 hours in a workweek. If you are paid a salary or a fee basis, then you need to answer the questions above to determine if the other requirements are met. But what if you are paid a base salary plus some other per patient or hourly compensation? The chances are your employer loses any exemption that might apply. Employers bear the burden of demonstrating that the employee was compensated on a salary or fee basis. The definition of "fee basis" under 29 C.F.R. § 541.313(b) states that such arrangements are characterized by payment for a completed task "regardless of the time required for its completion." 

This language suggests that a compensation plan will not be considered a fee basis arrangement if it contains any component that ties compensation to the number of hours worked. So, if you are paid in part by the hour, but also a salary or fee basis, then you have a good argument that you are not exempt (that is, you are owed overtime pay). 

For example, we represented a nurse who had some responsibilities during the week for which he was paid an hourly rate, but was also paid a per-patient rate for other work. We were able to successfully argue that he was not exempt.

Do You Work off the Clock?

Illegal wage and hour practices are common in the healthcare industry. In fact, many lawsuits have been brought against hospitals and health centers for automatic mealtime deductions. While the practice of automatically deducting mealtime from an employee's pay is not illegal, this practice invites wage and hour violations. This often happens because many nurses and healthcare professionals are required to work through their lunch, or may not be given an opportunity to take a full lunch break.
In addition, nurses also are required to perform off the clock work, such as pre-shift roll calls, setting up equipment before the official start time of a shift or driving time between house calls.

What to do if you have not been paid your proper wages or overtime:

If you are a non-exempt nurse who has performed off the clock work, worked through your lunch, or not been paid the overtime you are owed, then you need to contact a nurse overtime lawyer at Kennedy Hodges L.L.P. We offer a free consultation as well as a free review of your pay stubs, job duties and other employment documents to ensure that you are classified correctly and are being properly compensated for your work. Call 855-947-0707 to schedule a free consultation with a wage and hour lawyer today.