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Centene Settles Nurses Overtime Claims for $4.5 Million

In order to protect workers who frequently don’t have much leverage when negotiating compensation with their employers, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides a federal minimum wage, defines overtime as any time spent working after eight hours a day or forty hours a week, and requires employers to pay their workers one and one-half times their normal hourly rate for all the overtime they spend working. In addition to the federal requirements to treat workers fairly, each state and city has their own laws protecting local workers, so employers conducting business in the U.S. need to be aware of all the employment laws that apply to them.

Despite the well-known overtime requirements, the FLSA does allow some employees to be held exempt from those requirements, but those exemptions are not as well known. As a result, many employers can get away with refusing to pay their workers for the overtime hours they work if those employees are not sure if they fit into one of the categories that qualify for overtime compensation.

The FLSA is very specific about the requirements employees need to meet in order to qualify for the overtime exemption, but they fit into three general categories: administrative, executive, and professional. Under the administrative category are employees who perform primarily office work and provide administrative assistance directly to an executive. The executive category covers anyone who spends the majority of their time at work managing other employees and has direct say in the hiring and firing of those employees. The professional category consists of any worker whose job requires them to have a certain set of skills or level of education in order to perform their job, such as doctors, lawyers, artists, musicians, etc.

Nurses are not generally considered to qualify for any of the categories for overtime exemption, although Centene Management Co. insists it did nothing wrong when it classified its nurses as exempt from overtime compensation. Centene operates health insurance plans that are sponsored by the government, and was recently sued by a large class of nurses for allegedly misclassifying them as exempt from overtime compensation. The wage and hour lawsuit alleges this misclassification violated the FLSA, as well as applicable state laws.

The class includes all nurses who worked for Centene at any time in the past three years in California, Missouri, Illinois, or Ohio. According to the complaint, the primary responsibility of the nurses was to review medical authorization requests submitted by healthcare providers and compare them to predetermined guidelines for insurance coverage.

Centene insists the nurses qualified for the overtime exemption, but in order to avoid the hassle and expense of continuing to dispute the claims in court, Centene has agreed on a settlement amount of $4.5 million. As part of the agreement, Centene does not admit to having done anything illegal and continues to deny having done anything wrong.

For the nurses’ part, those who qualify to participate in the class will receive an average of $9,000 each, depending on their claims.

The Chicago and Oak Brook class action attorneys at the Chicago Overtime Law Center are investigating unpaid overtime claims against hospitals, senior and assisted living centers and large doctor and dental practices and chains for erasing or altering time sheets or time records, pressuring workers not to report or record overtime, and otherwise failing to pay workers for overtime and other wages. If you are the victim this practice call us at (312) 869-4095 or contact us online by filling in the form at the side of this blog.

The Chicago unpaid overtime lawyers at the Chicago Overtime Law Center have decades of experience fighting for wage earner’s rights. We have a team of Chicago unpaid overtime attorneys who focus on nationwide class action lawsuits and work out of Chicago and Oak Brook offices and prosecute claims for workers all over the Chicago area including Cicero, Orland Park and Berwyn. We protect unpaid workers who haven’t received overtime throughout the Chicago area including in DuPage, McHenry Kane and Cook Counties.

Our Melrose Park and Stone Park overtime lawyers are intimately familiar with the issues that arise during wage claim litigation, and we know the laws that govern overtime cases well. Many employers misclassify employees as being exempt from overtime laws and pay workers salaries instead of hourly wages in order to avoid paying them overtime. Some employers mistakenly classify employees as exempt and others intentionally do so in order to circumvent the law. In either case, workers do not receive the wages they should, and a lawsuit may be the only way to recover their earned wages.

The Chicago Overtime Law Center is based in Chicago and represents clients throughout the country who have not been paid for the overtime hours that they worked. If you believe that you are owed overtime wages, contact one of our Chicago class action attorneys by phone at (312) 869-4095 or through our online form.