Work Off the Clock: Nurses Allege Wage and Hour Violations at Houston Methodist Hospital

Allegations have been made that the Houston Methodist Hospital requires nursing staff to work off the clock due to a payroll system that automatically deducts a 30 minute lunch break. A former nurse named Joy Corcione is seeking permission from a local federal court for collective action on behalf of over 5,000 workers from the facility. The lawsuit Corcione filed alleges that as a result of the automatic lunch break deductions the hospital owes back wages to the nurses, nursing assistants, patient care assistants, etc. Corcione explains that workers are required to respond to patient calls as well as meet with doctors and perform other duties as necessary during their so called “lunch breaks.” The lawsuit also alleges that sometimes nurses and other hospital employed caregivers don’t get to eat lunch at all, they are too busy.

The hospital has responded to the allegations made in the suit saying:

1. They make sure to pay workers appropriately even if their lunch is interrupted.

2. Hospital administration makes a great effort to ensure a fair compensation process as well as a fair work place environment.

3. The hospital will address claims otherwise during the process of litigation.

According to the Federal Labor Law, employers don’t have to pay employees during their lunch breaks if they are not working, but it’s been specified that if workers are still on duty (answering calls, going through emails, performing other work-related activities) during their lunch break then this time is considered work time even if they are eating, making personal calls or texts etc. while performing said duties.

It will be interesting to see what U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa has to say about the payroll system that automatically deducts the 30-minute break and the alleged discouragement of employees to manually correct the deduction of meal time and break time on their time sheets. The judge will need to decide whether or not to certify it as a collective action, but if he does, other nurses and patient care employees from the hospital can expect to receive notices regarding their chance to opt in – only employees who opt in can share in any eventual settlement.

If you have any questions about class action lawsuits or meal break violations, please get in touch with the experts at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik

Accusations of Labor Violations at TGI Friday’s

One of the nation’s most popular casual dining spots has been named in a class action lawsuit. TGI Friday’s is accused in the suit of systematically underpaying its tipped employees. Allegations made within the suit filed on April 17, 2014 in New York Federal Court include: TGI Friday’s requires that tipped workers are at work early and say late after closing without minimum wage compensation and/or overtime pay. The suit was filed by four former employees of TGI Friday’s in the New York metro area and Fredericksburg, Virginia. Plaintiffs also indicate that the restaurant management utilized a central time-keeping system that allowed them to cut hours from employee time records – requiring employees to work off the clock doing prep work and clean up before and after their shifts/restaurant hours.

No one has indicated a specific dollar amount for this lawsuit, but speculation puts it in the millions. Allegations of violations of the Federal Fair Standards Act and the New York Law were made against TGI Friday’s and Carlson Restaurants (its parent company).

TGI Friday’s has approximately 540 domestic locations and 17,700 US employees. The suit represents all current and former workers: servers, bartenders, hosts, bussers and any other “tipped” workers at the chain.

Workers are seeking recovery of minimum wages as well as overtime pay, misappropriated tips, unlawful deductions, etc.

Many employers are attempting to maximize profit by minimizing employee costs. If you are being underpaid for hours worked, get in touch with an expert wage and hour attorney at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.