Last month, Centegra Health System, which operates a chain of hospitals and clinics in the Chicago area, reached a settlement for an undisclosed amount with a proposed class of home health clinicians who claimed they were improperly denied overtime payments.  The settlement was reached via private arbitration.

The suit begun in January 2017 when Laura Byrne, a home health clinician, filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that her employer, Centegra Health System, had violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) by incorrectly counting time home health employees spent on tasks such as documenting care and staff scheduling, which resulted in Centegra underpaying such employees for overtime spent on work-related duties.  

Byrne based her action on a $4.75 million settlement from 2016 in which a group of home health care workers successfully claimed they were entitled to unpaid overtime after being improperly classified as exempt under the FLSA.  Byrne’s complaint specifically alleged that “[Centegra] was aware, or should have been aware, that plaintiffs performed nonexempt work that required payment of overtime compensation. … For instance, because [Centegra] assigned plaintiffs their work and required them to work long hours to complete all of their job duties and responsibilities, [Centegra] knew or should have known that plaintiffs worked overtime hours.”

In April 2017, based on the allegations that she and other home health employees were misclassified as exempt and therefore paid on an invalid salary or fee basis, Byrne sought to certify the suit as a class action on behalf of nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists who provided home care to Centegra’s patients.  The complaint sought damages in an amount equal to time and a half for the overtime accumulated by over 50 Centegra employees, and 2 percent interest on the outstanding payments.  The matter was settled prior to a ruling by the court on whether the case presented a certifiable class.

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