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Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20228
Experience:  Licensed Attorney with 29 yrs. exp in Employment Law
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As a registered nurse I was told I'm mandated by the

Customer Question

As a registered nurse I was told I'm mandated by the hospital to work past my scheduled shift and if I resisted it will be patient aboundment. I worked 27 hours in an ICU and when I asked about why I was not paid overtime I was told because I didn't reach my 40 hours for that week. Then j find out from NY state dept of labor it is unlawful to mandate a nurse to work unless it's a natural disaster which the conditions were not and was simply a snow storm. I was advised to file for a civil case. Any thoughts?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 1 year ago.


Thank you for the information and your question. First, I am not exactly sure who you spoke to, but the NYS DOL is charged under the nurse mandatory overtime statute to enforce the law. In other words, there is no requirement that you file suit, the law provides that the DOL enforces it and there is a complaint process through the State. You can see the form for doing so at the following link:

Also, the information you apparently received about when an employer can mandate overtime wasn't exactly accurate. The employer is not limited to just a natural disaster and ultimately they decide when there is a
"patient care emergency." Obviously, they can't be unreasonable in doing so and if they are, a nurse could file a complaint, but they have a pretty broad right to do so. You can see the exact details of under what circumstances they can declare the patient care emergency by going to the FAQ at the follow link and going down to that information:

I have set out what the requirement is for the "patient care emergency" from that link here:

Q: What is considered a “patient care emergency”?

A: A "patient care emergency" means a situation that:

  • Is unforeseen

  • Could not be prudently planned for

  • And requires the continued presence of the nurse to provide safe patient care

Before requiring an on-duty nurse to work beyond his or her regularly scheduled work hours to address a patient care emergency, the health care employer must:

  • Make a good faith effort to have overtime covered on a voluntary basis

  • Use all methods listed in its Nurse Coverage Plan.

The health care employer must document attempts to secure nurse coverage:

  • Use of phone logs

  • Show other records appropriate to this purpose.

An employer cannot deem a situation a patient care emergency if it is the result of routine nurse staffing needs due to:

  • Typical staffing patterns

  • Typical levels of staff absenteeism

  • Time off typically approved by the employer for vacation, holidays, sick leave, and personal leave

This applies unless the employer followed an acceptable Nurse Coverage Plan but failed to produce staffing to meet the particular patient care emergency.

If you still though, after reading all the detailed FAQ that your employer is violating the law, then you have a right to file the complaint I mentioned. There really is no cause of action, other than an injunction, that a civil suit would accomplish, since the statute gives no such rights. In other words, there is no basis for damages with a violation of the statute, only option is to stop them from violating it in the future, which the DOL can do through their process.

Please feel free to ask for clarification after you have read the information at the links above. If none is needed, then if you could take a moment to leave a positive rating in the box above, I will receive credit for assisting you today. Thank you

Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 1 year ago.

Hello again,

I wanted to touch base with you and make sure that you did not have any follow up questions for me from the answer I provided to you on the 11th. For some reason, the Experts are not always getting replies or ratings (at the top of the question/answer page you are viewing or in the pop up box for this question), which is how we get credit (paid by the Site) for our work, that the customer thinks have gone through. In your case I received neither. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating, please let me know so that I can inform the Site administrator. Please note that Site use works best while using a computer and using either Google Chrome or Firefox.

In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue,if needed. You can bookmark my page at:

Thank you.