My wife is an Occupational Therapist working for a large rehab company that contracts with long term care nursing homes. Because of cuts in medicare, her company has demanded that all therapy workers be 90% productive, meaning 90% billable hours. Therapists and assistants are orally threatened with termination if this is not achieved. Because of the burden of required paperwork, there are only two ways to achieve this productivity: bill medicare for more therapy time than is actually delivered (which is unethical and highly illegal), or work off the clock. There is no time clock, and the policy (written or unwritten) is forcing workers to add up their billable hours and then only write down the employee time worked that will yield 90% productivity, instead of the actual employee time worked, which is considerably more. This is happening company-wide and also industry-wide, and it's not fair. It's a sort of hidden way of getting around the Fair Labor Standards Act. The company pretends it doesn't know the employee is not recording all hours worked. What can be done? My wife is looking haggard from the long hours.
State/Country relating to Question: North Carolina
Good morning,I'm sorry to hear of your dilemma.Lets start with your statement: "It's a sort of hidden way of getting around the Fair Labor Standards Act." Actually, it isn't getting around the FLSA, it is in effect violating the FLSA. I presume that the employer is clearly aware of what is going on and is turning a blind eye based on the fact that the situation is financially advantageous to the employer.This large rehab company is ripe for a serious lawsuit---by all of the therapists who have been forced to work under these conditions. You wife might consider leading the charge by consulting with and retaining a local Employment Law law firm in your area to investigate filing a multi-Plaintiff suit, or perhaps even a class action lawsuit against the employer for Back Pay as well as liquidated damages.Under the FLSA, when a wage claim such as this is made, in addition to the past wages being paid to the employees, they are also generally entitled to a penalty as well in the amount of 100% of the wages. In effect, they collect double time for all the hours that the company has cheated them out of. Here is a link which discusses this aspect of damages:
One thing I forgot to mention that is important, and I hope you don't mind giving just a little more. This is a 'right-to-work' state where unions are kept down, and the employee serves 'at the will of the employer,' meaning that even if all these therapists win their lawsuit, they can be fired at any time with no cause shown. This labor situation tends to make employees scared to bring legal action. Any thoughts to add to your previous encouraging answer?
Sure, I have additional thoughts------ the employer isn't going to fire everybody! They'd go out of business. Not to mention, there would be a multitude of wrongful Termination cases filed as people were fired for enforcing their rights under the law. You see, NC public policy prohibits Retaliation and discrimination against employees who report violations of the law against the employer. Here is another informative link:
If your wife is fired, or retaliated against, for making the FLSA wage claim, she can then sue for the retaliation and collect additional damages---plus potentially punitive damages as well.
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