Lewis & Roberts Litigates Federal Wage & Hour Case that Results in Change to Hospital Policy.
A large hospital system required its nurses to carry hospital pagers and intercom phones on their breaks and 30 minute lunch time - even during 12 and 18 hour shifts. The result was that patients, doctors, administrators and other nurses would call the nurses during times the nurses were off the clock and were not being paid. When nurses accepted these calls and responded to patient and physician needs, their breaks and lunch times were often interrupted, shortened or simply eliminated. While patient care was never at risk - because nurses always responded to requests for their care, the nurses did feel that they should be paid for the time they were actually working. The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that all hourly employees be paid for all hours worked - and that they be properly paid "time and half" for overtime. Lewis & Roberts represented a group of nurses in a lawsuit filed against the hospital system to protect the nurses' rights and to ensure that every nurse was properly paid for all time worked. A companion case was also filed in state court under similar North Carolina laws.
Shortly after the federal case was filed, the hospital system implemented sweeping policy changes to ensure that nurses were paid for all of their time worked. A new policy was implemented so that nurses were paid when their lunch time was interrupted and/or eliminated. Additional nurses were also scheduled so that when a nurse was taking a lunch break, their patients were covered and the nurses could take a full 30 minutes uninterrupted. Often these 30 minute breaks were all the time a nurse would have away from patients during 12 and 18 hour shifts. The nurses believed that breaks were necessary to eat and relax during these long shifts so that they would be well rested to provide optimal patient care. The hospital system began to ensure that nurse breaks were protected only after the lawsuit was filed. Additionally, every nurse that was named in the lawsuit received cash settlement for their estimated unpaid time.
Lewis & Roberts is proud to have been a part of a lawsuit that both protected the rights of the employee nurses and recovered unpaid wages - as well as benefited patient care by helping to ensure nurses were well rested during long shifts. The changes implemented because of the lawsuit affected thousands of nurses and covered dozens of individual hospitals within the system.