HOUSTON, Nov. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- On Friday, November 14th, 2014, Federal Judge Lee Rosenthal approved class certification for an overtime lawsuit brought by the law firm of Kennedy Hodges, LLP, an employment law firm based in Houston, Texas. After many months of litigation regarding class certification, Judge Rosenthal has now ordered that the case proceed as a collective action for nurses employed by the Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, Willowbrook, and San Jacinto locations. As part of the collective action, a notice will be sent to all of the nurses informing them of this lawsuit and their right to participate and make a claim for unpaid wages.
Judge Rosenthal has ordered Methodist Hospital to provide the names of all nurses employed at the above mentioned locations by December 12, 2014. Nurses who worked at any time during the period of November 13, 2011 to the present and who were subject to an automatic deduction of their meal breaks or were subject to interruptions during meal breaks, are eligible to participate.
Court documents allege that Methodist Hospital automatically deducted 30 minutes for a meal break from its employees' paychecks regardless of whether a meal break was taken or if an employee was not completely relieved of his or her job responsibilities.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the federal law that applies to the payment of wages in Texas, each employee must be completely relieved of all duties for employers to deduct wages for a meal break. The nurses involved in this lawsuit contend that it is virtually impossible to take a completely uninterrupted meal break. The Plaintiffs allege that nurses are frequently interrupted during their requested meal time whether it is to answer questions by patients and families, assist doctors, take calls from other in house hospital departments, or take calls on their hospital-issued work monitoring devices or phones.
Under the law, employers must compensate employees for all of the time spent performing work duties, and that includes the time nursing employees spend working through automatically deducted "meal breaks," whether they are:
- Returning phone calls and calling in prescriptions
- Monitoring a phone line, even if no calls come in
- Finishing up notes and charting
- Responding to doctor requests
- Responding to emails
- Prepping charts, exam rooms, etc.
Attorney Galvin Kennedy, lead attorney representing the nurses, states, "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."
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.
"Over 50 nurses have identified interrupted meal periods in this case and none have been fired or suffered any form of retaliation. Methodist has told me no nurse would be retaliated against for claiming their wages in this lawsuit. The ruling from the court means Methodist nurses can make a claim for their earned wages without fear," says attorney Kennedy.
To learn more about this lawsuit or about how to claim your due wages and sign up for the case, visit: http://www.texasovertimeattorney.com/library/houston-methodist-hospital-may-owe-back-pay-to-nurses.cfm
This case is styled Joy Coricone, et al vs. Methodist Hospital, et al. Cause Number: 3:14-cv-00160 filed in the Southern District of Texas.
About Kennedy Hodges:
From its Houston headquarters, Kennedy Hodges represents clients throughout Texas and nationwide in a variety of practice areas such as: wage and hour violations, personal injury claims, product liability claims, trucking accidents, medical malpractice claims, pharmacy error claims, and civil rights claims. For more information, please visit: http://www.texasovertimeattorney.com.
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SOURCE Kennedy Hodges, LLP